Scouting Report: QB Trey Lance 6’4″ 227 (North Dakota State)
A quarterback with polished pocket mechanics with average arm strength and playing speed that struggles with accuracy against low levels of competition (D1 Sub-division). Broke man’s version of Donovan McNabb. Looked like an inaccurate option QB with average playing speed. Did not play in a traditional pro-style offense. Looked like an athlete trying to play quarterback. Looked like a run-first prospect who tends to take off and run when things break down. Lance is a better runner than a passer, but he does not slide when running the football. Took off and ran a lot. He looked the part setting up the pocket, but any team considering him needs to turn on the film. The film clearly shows possible UFA, practice squad, scout team type of prospect with no upside. The classic over-hyped player who put up stats at a lesser level of competition, but do not let that fool you. Lance will excel at a pro day where teams will grossly over-inflate his value as he runs around in non-football game conditions. The film clearly shows his struggles in a number of areas. Lacks confidence. It is absolutely absurd he is even in first-round draft discussions. Lance is the most over-rated prospect in my 40 years of watching football. I feel like the world is trying to make a practice squad player into a franchise QB. The film does not lie. ZERO DOMINANT TRAITS ON FILM. He was no Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham when running the ball. Any GM who is considering him or takes him in the first round should be fired on the spot. Pull up film from (Central Arkansas, James Madison, The University of North Dakota, and Butler).
Lines up under center and mostly out of the shotgun formation. Polished in terms of pocket mechanics and fundamentals – that is where a big part of his overvalue is coming from. Looks well-schooled in the pocket in terms of mechanics and fundamentals. Looks the part up until he throws the football. Good play-action fake, but tends to overuse it. Sits in pocket and goes through progressions. Can see his head moving. Can become hesitant pulling the trigger (James Madison wide-open tight end). Unsure of himself and did not look like he trusted his receivers in game situations. Lack of confidence really came out in these situations. Tends to lock in and telegraph throws too often. Shows ability to move and slide around in the pocket walls to sometimes to elude the rush, but also has a tendency to not feel the rush until it is too late. Takes way too many sacks and yardage losses. At times looks absolutely overwhelmed against the rush. Does not throw the ball away to avoid sacks. Can roll out left or right when flushed or by design.
Lance showed average arm-strength. Tends to throw a lot from 3/4 position. Accuracy was all over the road at short, intermediate, and deep levels in actual game situations. Erratic. Tends to not throw receiver-friendly balls either most of the time. I saw a number of high or low passes where receivers had to jump or slide to attempt to catch. Rarely threw a ball intermediate or deep in tight coverage where the receiver could just run right through it. NFL DB’s dream QB.
The best range for him is short. Showed he can more often than not hit short range screens left, middle and right. However, he struggled when rolling out and completing short passes to his right against Central Arkansas. Tends to throw a nice and catch-able ball short. Can throw short falling away and complete it.
At the medium and intermediate route levels threw a number of balls that were defended or batted away (Central Arkansas). Exposed at the intermediate route level. Sometimes locked in and passes took too long to get there. This is going to be a real problem in the NFL. Hesitancy really shows up at this route level in tighter coverage. Accuracy and ball placement was inconsistent at this route level. By far and away, his best pass is the tight end seam route from this range. Hit that nicely when tight ends were wide open up the seam. Everything else he throws at this level is hit and miss. Lacks zip on his passes across the middle.
Deep passing game was erratic. Hit or miss. Some under-thrown that became 50-50 jump balls. Some overthrown. Occasionally threw a nice-looking pass. Just way too inconsistent. I was not remotely impressed by his deep passing game. Has to put a lot of air under the ball. Questionable and inconsistent ball placement. Lacks touch deep.
If Trey Lance played at a regular D1 program, we would not know his name. Would never start in the SEC. Grossly over-graded consensus out there. I am not at all seeing it or feeling it watching him play. I could not get into him at all. I was not even overly impressed with him as a runner either. Looked like a very big fish in a very small pond in college. Nothing special about him other than him outrunning lower-level competition sometimes. He has balance as a runner, but he is neither fast (playing speed) nor elusive. He looked like a raw prospect who may be a team brings into camp and maybe puts on their practice squad. I can not see his throwing arm getting any stronger or him getting dramatically faster or more elusive. For that reason, I am not seeing the upside. Plus his lack of touch and accuracy – and his hesitancy and tendency to lock-in is going to be the kiss of death to his NFL career. I also do not get a vibe of leadership from him watching him play either. Not a field general commanding type. I feel very strongly he has no chance in the NFL. I do not know how much more clear I can make it. Nothing about his game remotely impresses me. I only wish I could sit with all the GM’s in a room and watch the film with them. When I watched his pro-day his body language and demeanor gave off a vibe of being low energy, lethargic and sluggish. Gave me a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach watching him at his pro-day. Body language and vibe really remind me of Jason Campbell (WSH). I am not liking what I see in his eyes either. Looks down-trodden and unsure in the eyes, which is what I saw translate on film with the hesitancy. Does not exude confidence. Threw better at his pro-day, but that is a deception in gym shorts and non-game conditions. He was trained to do well in pro-day conditions. Good natural size, but soft-looking body and build.
Where would I draft Trey Lance: He would not be on my draft board. UFA. (I would not sign him as a UFA either)
Probability of being a bust: 100%
If I were a GM, this is the question I need to have answered in my mind about Trey Lance: How is he even in the first-round discussion?
My top 10 concerns about Trey Lance:
- Lack of experience running an NFL pro-style offense.
- Lack of feel for the pass rush.
- He takes too many sacks and losses. He does not throw the ball away in those situations.
- Tendency to lock in with receivers and telegraph throws.
- Average NFL arm.
- Sometimes too hesitant before pulling the trigger.
- Struggles with accuracy and ball placement at intermediate and deep route levels.
- Does not seem to know how to slide when he is running the ball.
- Average playing speed when running the ball.
- Did not dominate on film at a smaller school level.
I could go on.
How NFL defenses will beat him: By stepping onto the field. Blitz him early and often, especially from the blindside and up the gut. He takes sacks and losses. Play tight single coverage intermediate and deep. Take away the screen game and force him to throw the ball downfield. It is not that hard to game plan against him. Easy quarterback to beat in the NFL.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.