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NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings: No. 4 – Trey Lance, North Dakota State

North Dakota State's Trey Lance didn't throw a single interception in 16 games in 2019.
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With Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love, the Green Bay Packers are set atop the depth chart at quarterback. However, with backup Tim Boyle signing with the Detroit Lions in free agency, Green Bay could use a developmental prospect.

North Dakota State’s Trey Lance is our No. 4-ranked quarterback.

Trey Lance’s favorite number might as well be zero.

A redshirt freshman in 2019, Lance threw as many interceptions as he lost games. Zero. In leading North Dakota State to a 16-0 record and yet another FCS national championship, Lance threw 28 touchdowns vs. zero interceptions. He sent an NCAA all-divisions record with the most passing attempts (277) without an interception.

No wonder why some quarterback-hungry team will be, ahem, zeroing in on Lance as their quarterback of the future.

To be sure, Lance is a one-year wonder. But, oh, what a season. Lance went the equivalent of a full NFL season without throwing an interception. Yes, that came against the lesser competition of FCS but it also came with a supporting cast formed largely by FCS players.

How did one of the top NFL prospects end up at North Dakota State? The Minnesota native and Wing-T quarterback wanted to play for the Golden Gophers. On a campus visit, Gophers coach P.J. Fleck liked Lance … as a defensive back. He didn’t receive a single scholarship offer from a Power-5 school. Boise State was interested but Lance opted for North Dakota State, which sent Carson Wentz and, later, Easton Stick to the NFL.

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“He was adamant about playing quarterback, and that may have limited his opportunities,” said one Big Ten assistant coach. “We all look pretty stupid in retrospect.”

Lance’s father, Carlton, was a cornerback at Southwest Missouri State who played in the Canadian Football League and the World League. Unlike many top recruits who have quarterback coaches, Lance learned the game from his father.

“The ball just started flying out of his hand, and he could put it wherever I asked him to," Carlton said. "He started tearing up my hands. I had to get some gloves after a while.”

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Lance to the late Steve McNair.

“He’ll get hit by a linebacker at the 4-yard line and find his way into the end zone, and you see the same thing with Trey Lance,” Jeremiah said. “Both guys came from a lower level of competition, both guys were dominant at that level. You look at the power arms to be able to drive the football down the field. You look at guys that their teammates really, really rally around and love, I just think there's a lot of similarities between the two.”

Measureables: 6-foot-3 7/8, 224 pounds. 9 1/8-inch hands.

Stats and accolades: In 2019, Lance won the Walter Payton Award as the top player in FCS and the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS. Including 1,100 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, Lance piled up 42 touchdowns and 3,886 yards from scrimmage. Due to COVID, the Bison played only one game during the traditional fall season in 2020. He went 15-of-30 for 149 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Central Arkansas. His interception-free streak ended at 307 passes. Lance opted out of the FCS spring season.

NFL Draft Bible Says: Lance is the new-age dual-threat signal-caller that is all the rage. With a rifle for an arm and a high-powered pair of wheels in his lower half, he sits as one of the most talented quarterback prospects in the 2021 cycle. Playing on the top team at his level can come back to bite him. He is rarely faced with navigating pressure, both defensively and from in-game situations making it rare that he has had to overcome adversity. The physical skill set is one that can clearly transition to the next level. The minute he steps foot on an NFL field, he will be among the most talented passers in the league.