Trey Lance: The biggest risk in the 2021 NFL Draft class

Trey Lance, 2021 NFL Draft prospect, Panthers (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
Trey Lance, 2021 NFL Draft prospect, Panthers (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images) /

Trey Lance: The biggest risk in the 2021 NFL Draft class.

There is an inherent risk in taking a quarterback in the NFL Draft, no matter how talented the prospect is. With Trey Lance of North Dakota State, it’s abundantly clear that the risk goes two ways.

This is not a post with the intent to hammer Lance for having a small sample size.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Just because Lance’s season was all but canceled for circumstances completely out of his control doesn’t mean we don’t still love the things we saw from him in 2019 at North Dakota State. It would be fickle of NFL scouts, NFL Draft pundits, or anyone else to discredit Lance’s work in 2019 for the Bison simply because of a recency bias.

Lance’s most recent game, speaking of, wasn’t all that great from an evaluation perspective. Evaluated in a vacuum, Lance’s game against Central Arkansas wasn’t what everyone was hoping to see from him.

The guy who threw 28 touchdown passes with zero interceptions in 2019, rushed for over 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns, and basically dominated with very few mistakes looked like he was struggling to put everything on tape in one game, overdoing it a bit.

Yet the fact remains — Lance’s physical makeup and football skills will endear him to NFL teams. Not that they are the same in every aspect, but Lance’s running ability could give teams thoughts about Josh Allen and his transition to the NFL out of Wyoming. Lance does not have a reputation for being an inaccurate passer as Allen did coming out, but if struggles as a passer are expected early, Lance can still very much help a team win with his legs.

What makes Lance the riskiest prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft?

For a team considering drafting him, there is certainly risk involved when it comes to Lance’s sample size. And it’s not just a sample size issue from a selfish standpoint of not being able to see enough of him, but it’s valuable experience that Lance has unfortunately missed out on with this season being wiped away by COVID-19 for him and the rest of his Bison teammates.

Lance has just 17 games of experience and fair or not, that is something NFL clubs could hold against him in their evaluation. It doesn’t make him a bad prospect, but it could mean that other players are much further along in their development based on their on-field experience.

From a tools perspective, there is so much to love about Lance. He can sling it, he is a tremendous athlete, and he is a hard worker who, even in his limited time on task, has proven to be tremendous at taking care of the football.

The real risk involved with Lance may not be drafting him but passing on him. It would be justified for teams to pass and chalk it up to Lance being a small-school player with limited on-field experience on top of it, but how many prospects come along with his physical tools and mental makeup at the position?

Can NFL teams really justify passing on that for the “sample size” argument?

Sure, there is plenty of risk involved with taking Lance in the first place, but as he gets the chance to show off his skills in the pre-draft circuit to teams as well as show what he can do on the whiteboard and in interviews, it’s not out of the question that teams will come away unable to talk themselves out of taking him high in the 2021 NFL Draft.