2021 NFL Draft scouting report: QB Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

By , Audacy Sports

Trey Lance is the type of selection that could put you on a parade float or get your regime dismissed within the next five years. Using a first-round pick on Lance isn't for the risk-averse, but apparently the 49ers aren't afraid to roll the dice, as they used the No. 3 pick in Thursday night's NFL Draft on the 20-year-old.

In many ways, Lance was robbed of the chance to build on a dominant 2019 season, one where he didn't throw a single interception and combined for 42 total touchdowns. COVID-19 forced North Dakota State to move their 2020 season to the spring of 2021.

NDSU played one game this past fall, a 39-28 win over the Central Arkansas Bears. In it, he did throw for two touchdowns and rush for another two, but also completed just half of his 28 pass attempts and threw an interception. One game probably wouldn't have changed a ton about Lance's NFL stock, but the one game he played in during his third year at the school reminded you both about why he's so intriguing a prospect, but also why some teams aren't sure about him in the same way they are about other prospects in this year's class.

Measurables: 6'4"/225

School: North Dakota State

2019 stats (played only one game in '20): 16 games, 192 completions on 287 attempts, 66.9% completion rate, 2,786 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, zero interceptions

Accolades: 2019 Missouri Valley Offensive Player of the Year; First-Team All-Missouri Valley; 2019 Walter Payton Award; 2019 Jerry Rice Award

Strengths: The one full season that Lance played (2019) he threw 28 touchdowns, wasn't picked off once and added 1,100 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns...He's the most gifted rusher at the position to enter the draft since Kyler Murray...Even if he's raw as a passer, he has a cannon...Some look down on 1-AA quarterbacks, but he comes from a school where you're expected to be National Champions every season and that they were in 2019...Would be a tremendous weapon near the goal line

Weaknesses: Lance started just 19 games during his collegiate career...North Dakota State did play one game in the fall (largely to give Lance more tape), but they moved their season to the spring, so he really didn't see game action this past year...you worry if he knows when to say when and just live to see another play...given how raw he is as a passer, you could make the case for redshirting him in his rookie season, but do you want him to not see significant game action for two straight years?...Of course you worry about anyone that relies on their legs as much as him getting injured

Expert scout analysis: "An offensive coordinator willing to blend his run/pass talent with a play-action attack could get the most out of Lance, who should become a good NFL starter," Lance Zierlein of NFL Media said.


Player comparison: Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick sat behind Alex Smith for a season-and-a-half in San Francisco, and was far from a finished product as a passer when he took over as the starter. Still, that same year Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman put together an offensive system that allowed the 49ers to reach the Super Bowl. Sitting behind a veteran and eventually being unleashed as a weapon at the position could allow Lance to have success in a way that Kaepernick did early in his career.

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