One too many times an NFL team has fallen in love with a player at the NFL Scouting Combine or at his Pro Day. Teams over-inflate a prospects’ value and talk themselves into it – and by doing so, they have made big mistakes.
The game film does not lie.
As an aspiring NFL GM, I do not care how a player looks running around throwing the ball to his buddies in gym shorts in a relaxed, non-pressure, non-football game situation indoors in ideal conditions. It is like watching a fighter pilot in a flight simulator machine. It does not matter. It does not remotely compare to the actual game film.
Never in my 40 years have I ever seen more of an effort to manufacture a first round prospect more than I have with Trey Lance. Not one, but two pro days? That is like a telemarketer who will not stop calling. Last month I put out my evaluation on him saying any GM who even considers Trey Lance in the first round should be fired on the spot.
The fact that his name is even in the first round discussion is ridiculous. I cannot believe this is even a rational conversation in war rooms across the league. I have watched NFL football for 40 years and I have seen all the greats and all those in-between and I can unequivocally say Trey Lance does not remotely have what it takes when I compare him against those who have had success in the league. I do not care what his measurements are. I do not care how many times he can hop around an orange cone on one foot. All I care about is the game film.
After extensively studying him on game film, all he looks like is a broke man’s version of Donovan McNabb. He is not Michael Vick in the open field cutting up highlight reels and he is not RGIII who could cover up for his inability to read defenses with his blazing speed and insane athleticism which forced defenses to adjust to him. Lance is someone with very average looking playing speed and someone who is not remotely elusive who was running the ball against what amounts to glorified high school competition – and he was barely able to outrun those guys. We are not talking about someone with 4.2 speed, we are talking about someone who has been reported to run in the mid 4.5s (according to what was told to the NFL Network). He looks that slow if not slower to me on the game film. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell he will be able to outrun NFL defenses. Lance looks like an athlete who is trying to play quarterback. He is someone who instinctively wants to run first, and throw second.
Lance is also someone with average arm strength. He is not riffling it across the middle like Aaron Rodgers. There is absolutely not one thing that looks special or elite about him on the game film. Not one. There is not one thing that “excited” me when I watched him play. When I first evaluated him back in September of last season, I gave him a 5-6 round grade and said he looked like someone maybe you put on your practice squad who can run the scout team during practice.
I marvel as I sit back and watch social media fall in love with this kid saying he ran a pro-style offense or he “ran the 49ers offense” in college. That is downright comical. Turn on the film. He ran a low-budget option offense. People go off about his stats – he did not do that against Alabama, LSU and Florida. He did not even do that against Penn State or UCLA. He played the likes of Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Illinois State and James Madison. With all due respect to those programs – this is not an accurate representation of what it will be like throwing against the Patriots, Rams and Ravens. Watching even Lance’s best throws in college is like watching a senior high school quarterback beat up on the JV team when you actually study the level of competition. There is a reason was not recruited by big time programs and there is a reason why they did not come and beg him to transfer even after his “big 2019 season.” It is easy math and it is not because he is some sort of diamond in the rough who slipped through the cracks.
Respectfully, when I heard Michael Lombardi come out and say the “football team,” should push in all their chips and go all in on Lance I about fell off my chair It is perhaps the most absurd statement I have heard from a respected football man in my life. I could not even believe when someone like Lombardi suggested Washington was ready to trade their whole draft for Lance. Lombardi was my mentor’s boss at his first NFL job. I was really taken back by his statements. Trust me, Trey Lance is probably not reminding Ron Rivera of a young and spry Cam Newton. Trey Lance could not even hold Cam Newton’s clipboard.
The only thing I felt watching Lance at his pro days, which was like watching America’s Got Talent, special football edition, was this pervasive feeling of low level energy Lance’s body language was strongly communicating. I also did not like what I saw in his eyes. I got a strong physical pain in my stomach even watching him as he milked it for every second he could with the NFL Films crew up in his face capturing every drop of sweat that fell from his supposed overexerted body (after almost every throw). It was downright sickening and a mockery to the game itself.
If anything, watching him in his pro days only brought back strong memories of QB Jason Campbell who also was another low energy drain who looked apathetic, downtrodden and lethargic in his eyes much like Lance looks. The only difference between Campbell and Lance was Campbell actually had an arm. That is a frightening thought after suffering watching Campbell play as a fan of the Redskins. I could not wait until they got rid of him.
Lance also brings back very vivid memories of former Browns second-round bust, DeShone Kizer. However, Kizer too had an arm – another frightening thought.
The pro days mean nothing with Trey Lance. It is all a marketing ploy to over-hype a grossly over-graded player. I stand on my fall and spring projections – he is a late round (fall 2020) UFA (Spring 2021) with very limited upside. He is not going to magically become faster nor will his arm become dramatically stronger.
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.