Showcase games filled with NFL scouts don’t usually occur until late January. But this past Saturday, October 3, NFL personnel from across the league descended to Fargo, North Dakota to watch expected first-round pick and North Dakota State signal-caller Trey Lance get what is likely his last taste of collegiate competition against Central Arkansas.
Lance would quarterback the Bison to a 39-28 victory, but no matter the final score, the storyline was always going to be about Lance’s draft stock.
Before evaluating Lance’s film in this game it’s important to put the game in context.
Central Arkansas is an FCS school, but unlike North Dakota State, who was playing their first game of the season, UCA were well into their season, with this being their fourth game. Anyone who has played or watched football knows that the difference in a teams execution from game one to game four, which had an effect on Lance’s final stat line: 15/30, 149 yards, two touchdown passes and one interception.
Lance’s passing stat line is fairly average, but Lance shined as a rusher. He accumulated 143 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 attempts.
The biggest takeaway off this one is obvious: Trey Lance is the prototypical modern-day NFL QB. He proved to be a prolific rusher, using his 6-foot-4 frame to shrug off Central Arkansas defenders throughout the game as he took it over with both his arms and his legs. Lance also got better as the game went on.
Lance started better understanding Central Arkansas blitz schemes better throughout the game; he eventually started evading those blitzes, turning some of them into big runs.
Lance settled into this game nicely, while he didn’t look great to start the game, once again let me remind you this was his first quarter of football compared to Central Arkansas’ 13th of the year.
Lance got better and more proficient as a passer as the game went on and he eventually looked like the top-10 pick that people expected him to be by the games end.
Lance’s natural arm-talent showed as he flung the ball 60-plus yards down the field multiple times and made some impressive throws to the sidelines.
In this game, Trey Lance showed why he is an elite prospect.
It looked like Lance’s first game of the season multiple times throughout the game. He showed a lack of ball-manipulation multiple times that allowed defensive players to undercut and break up routes. The redshirt-sophomore also missed open receivers multiple times throughout the game, as his touch was lackluster in this performance.
Lance also threw his first interception of his collegiate career, as he was read by a safety on a throw over the middle on a turnover that looked preventable.
Lance also was the victim of a strip-sack early in the game as he failed to identify pressure from his blindside, but this even improved throughout the game.
Yes, the passing stats aren’t sexy, but stats fail to tell a whole story. Lance showed all the traits necessary of an NFL star. Throughout the game he showed his elite arm strength and made some amazing throws, to go along with his Cam Newton esque running style that easily adjusts to the modern NFL.
While Lance’s stats aren’t great, this game to me proved validation of his talent and he is still my second ranked quarterback in the 2021 Draft.