Could Trey Lance Be a Top 10 Pick?
By: Ian Evans (@ianacevans)
After playing one full season with North Dakota State, phenom quarterback Trey Lance is off to the 2021 NFL Draft. Lance put up outstanding numbers in 2019 as he threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
He most likely would have followed up his 2020 season with similar numbers, however, North Dakota State postponed their season in August. But his lone season as Bison was convincing enough to catch the eyes of many NFL scouts and experts.
His accolades speak for themselves as he is a two-time FCS champion, first-team All-MVFC, won the WVFC Offensive Player of the year in 2019, and is a recipient of the Walter Payton and Jerry Rice awards. Trey Lance has proven that he can be a starting quarterback, or even as great as a franchise quarterback in NFL.
With other star college quarterbacks such as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Zach Wilson in the same draft class, there are many NFL teams outside of the Top 10 who could trade up in the draft to pick Trey Lance. He could be one of those guys who either gets picked in the top 15 or falls outside to the top 20.
There are many teams within the top 20 that could use a quarterback like Lance to help their offense in the future. However, there are some teams that are more ideal fits for the North Dakota State product than others. Here are the three best fits for Trey Lance.
1. Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team has a very important offseason ahead of them. They have the 19th pick in the draft and have over $40 million in cap space to take advantage of.
Washington has a real shot at taking Lance ahead of Teams like the Saints, Rams, Steelers, but they also sit behind the Patriots, Lions, Broncos, and 49ers.
When April arrives, one of the main team needs for Washington besides a wide receiver is a quarterback. Why? The team released their former 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Dwayne Haskins, who did not live up to the teams’ expectations and Alex Smith is on the wrong side of 35.
They also have backup quarterback Kyle Allen who is still recovering from a dislocated ankle as well. And although Taylor Heinicke played a sensational Wild Card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he is not a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Washington needs a dual-threat quarterback to make their offense with Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin even more dynamic. And Trey Lance can do that for Washington. Lance has an alluring skill set with above-average arm strength and passing accuracy.
In 2019, Lance threw for a completion percentage of 66.9% and finished with an overall QBR of 108.6. He will also bring consistency and incredible athleticism to NFL teams as well. Washington desperately needs that in a quarterback. Once he gets his opportunity, Washington could have a top 15 offense in the league, if they use their cap space correctly this offseason. The Washington Football Team is a perfect fit for Trey Lance.
2. Carolina Panthers
In last years’ draft, the Panthers prioritized defense as every single one of their picks was a defensive player. This means that in the 2021 NFL Draft the Panthers should prioritize and build their offense with the eighth in the draft.
The Panthers currently have Teddy Bridgewater, PJ Walker, and Will Grier as their quarterbacks. They also have a stable organization that can be a great place for many incoming rookies to find their footing. Although the Panthers finished 5-11, the Panthers have given head coach Matt Rhule–an aspect that not too many head coaches in the league have time.
The Panthers need a long-term plan offensively and Trey Lance seems like a sound fit for that plan. It seems likely that Zach Wilson is a Top-5 draft selection, as well. So, it would be very daunting for the Panthers to get a gift at eighth overall with Lance.
As previously mentioned, Lance is a dual-threat quarterback and is someone who could transition into a team that fits his similar style of play. Pair his athleticism with star running back Christian McCaffrey, an improving DJ Moore, a reliable Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel and you have yourself a lethal offensive arsenal.
With a strong running game behind him, receivers who have reliable hands and can make plays after the catch, as well as young and growing defense, Lance could fit Carolina’s plan for the future. If Zach Wilson is taken beforehand, Lance should be a prospect Carolina should highly consider.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
If there was one glaring problem with the Steelers offense this season besides their running game, it was Ben Roethlisberger.
The 38-year-old veteran quarterback showed his age as he constantly had his passes batted down at the line of scrimmage and had a tendency to overthrow his wide receivers. Granted he threw for 33 touchdowns, but he also threw for 10 interceptions, four of which came in the Steelers’ Wild Card loss to the Browns.
In that Wild Card game alone, it was evident that Big Ben’s time in the NFL is quickly coming to an end. Roethlisberger has one more year left on his contract, meaning that Pittsburgh needs to prepare for the future. It is safe to say that Mason Rudolph isn’t the future for Pittsburgh so drafting a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft seems like a viable option.
The Steelers have the 24th pick in the draft and have many options surrounding this pick. They could pick a running back to help the worst running game in the league. They could help their defense by picking a young cornerback as Joe Haden, 32, is near retirement.
The team could also trade into the Top 15 to pick and mentor their quarterback for the future. Is it unlikely? Yes. But is it possible? Absolutely. If they decide to pick the latter and trade up, they should consider taking Trey Lance if he’s available. Pairing his accuracy and arm strength with deep threats such as Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington could be extremely dangerous for opposing defenses.
If Pittsburgh decides to extend free agent JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason, that offense would be explosive if they do indeed decide to take Lance.
Of all of these three fits, the Steelers are the least likely fit as this scenario will probably not happen. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges could be place holders for Pittsburgh in the 2021 season and could wait until 2022 to draft their quarterback of the future. But don’t be surprised if they act on their future plans as early as April.