2021 NFL Draft: Expectations for Trey Lance against Central Arkansas

What do we need to see from 2021 NFL Draft prospect Trey Lance this afternoon?

In just a short time, North Dakota State quarterback and potential 2021 NFL Draft top pick Trey Lance will take the field for his only game of the 2020 season against Central Arkansas. It’s almost meant to be a showcase for Lance, who will play in front of (reportedly) scouts and personnel guys from 28 NFL teams.

If you’re lucky enough to have ESPN+, it’s highly recommended to tune in to this one. It’s unlikely that Lance will play in the spring if that’s indeed when the Bison play their full season, so this could be the only look scouts and analysts will get.

So what should the expectations be for Lance ahead of this showcase game? Let’s take a quick look.

Let’s start with a little sampling of Lance’s charting from four games last season, against South Dakota State, North Dakota, Northern Iowa, and UC-Davis. It might not be as much passing as you’d expect, but the Bison offense is very creative and diverse. Lance runs a lot in the option offense, and is effective in space and as a power runner.

So what does this chart show? Well, Lance challenges the defense outside the numbers a good deal more than he does over the middle of the field, with many of those being deep shots off of play action or outs in the quick passing game.

While the deep accuracy doesn’t look great as a whole (5/15 passing), it’s important to contextualize it. There were a couple drops amidst his attempts deep, and the placement was excellent for the most part. Lance shows off the accuracy of a top quarterback prospect.

Another thing to note from these games is how effective Lance plays out of play action, completing 10/20 passes and four touchdowns. While the numbers don’t jump out with an initial look, most of these were shot plays at least 20 or more yards down the field.

As a 2021 NFL Draft prospect right now, there’s so much to like in Lance’s game. He’s got plenty of arm talent, with great touch and accuracy to all levels of the field. Lance can drive the ball outside the numbers and have it jump out of his hand. He stays poised in the pocket, and only takes off at last resort. The game doesn’t look like it’s ever moving fast for him and he exudes confidence on the field.

Seeing him play against Oregon would’ve been great, and the question about competition will come up, but his 28:0 touchdown to interception ratio as a passer, combined with his effectiveness running the ball, shows that he fits extremely well in today’s NFL with quarterbacks who can make things happen from outside the pocket.

So what does he need to show today? All he needs to do is show off the playmaking ability and accuracy he did last season, and his stock shouldn’t change much at all. Having a big game won’t move the needle above Trevor Lawrence, but it’ll prove that his tools and skill set presents upside along with polish. It should be a fun afternoon.