I will tell you one thing that I does not have do when I was 21, throwing redneck raves at my Golden god rental house just down the street from Arizona State University, where I apparently attended broadcast journalism school. I does not have make a list of three girls that I found acceptable and hopefully one of them hits me if I stay near the barrel long enough.
No. I focused on the one I loved the most. And I took my step. I won some, I lost some. But girls and guys, can’t we be okay with that in the real world? There is always someone you love the most, and rarely a list of three acceptable choices.
That’s why I’m not buying this lecture from 49ers shooter Kyle Shanahan on any of the three QBs that can be drafted that are acceptable when it comes to third pick.
Sorry Kyle, you’re a little more alpha than that. Especially with that new Covid beard and the way you just strutted around this NFL Draft college house party. You just blew up all of next year’s student loan check on a new adjustment. Got a lollipop in your mouth, 2001 Air Force vintage white on white and a little hat jpeg. You are a man who controls his own destiny. You’re not looking for any of the three acceptable perspectives: You know who you want, you’ve taken the plunge, and you’re ready to close the deal.
You’ve decided to write Trey Lance, QB at North Dakota State University, and you’ve already planned the post-draft press match, in which you’ll lay out the facts of the case in front of the reviewing reporter. Grant Cohn quality. Let’s get right to the point.
Who is Trey Lance?
Well, according to at least a senior NFL zone scout, Lance is the Midwest’s best player this year with the potential to become a perennial NFL Top 5 QB. (This is the same Midwest that includes Justin Fields of Ohio State, who apparently collects 4th cycle at least one NFL team.
Trey Lance is the guy who has arguably had the best season in college football history. In 2019, as a freshman in a red shirt, Lance led North Dakota State University to an undefeated 16-0 season and FCS Division 1 national championship.
En route, Lance posted statistics that were simply unprecedented. In short, the guy has won every game he started while producing 42 total touchdowns without a single turnover. Specifically, Lance had 28 passing touchdowns and no interceptions combined with 169 carries for 1,100 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.
The Boy Scouts started planning trips to Fargo. They liked what they saw: a polished 6’3,235 pro-style QB with a rocket right arm and the speed, agility and power of an All State Shooting Guard.
Lance ran a Bison offensive program that had similarities to a traditional NFL system. He ran it well, obviously, considering the unbeaten national championship season, during which Lance’s polish, tenacity, skill and lightning-fast processing speed were on display:
One play, it carries linebackers on a designed QB lead on the way to a 60-yard touchdown …
The following? He sends a ball 65 yards deep over the receiver’s shoulder and straight into the bucket in a way that would make Russ Wilson cry.
Unlike Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Lance did not commit a spread offense. In fact, Lance was under center more than 80 percent of the time, performing a pro-style offense that often resembled Kyle Shanahan’s job – a fact not missed by zone scouts and the professional staff departments of the NFL.
In some cases, Lance has tossed coins directly from the 49ers playbook. This piece should look familiar to Niner fans.
You can add ESPN Project Analyst Daniel Jeremiah to Trey Lance’s list of admirers. During NDSU Pro Day, Jeremiah asserted that no QB to write carried more responsibility before the snap than Lance: the NDSU offense required Lance to call pass protection on the line of scrimmage; audible from bad and best parts; control the pre-engagement motion play and adjust the pre-engagement receiver routes through a series of hand signals.
Along with a demonstrated ability to master the cerebral part of the game, Jeremiah simply believes Lance is wired to win.
“With some players you just know they won’t fail. I had the same feeling about Josh Jacobs; you realize this guy has all the skills you need plus he’s hardwired. right way. I feel the same for Trey Lance. “
– ESPN Draft Analyst Daniel Jeremiah
Where did this guy come from?
Trey Lance graduated from Marshall High School in Marshall, Minnesota – a nearly forgotten town of 13,500 people well off the beaten track of FBS scouts. Despite posting some jaw-dropping numbers in his undergraduate and postgraduate campaigns, Lance simply didn’t attract the attention of college scouts – and scouts who saw him often tried to convince Lance to change his stance. Why the lack of interest in Lance as a QB?
Maybe it was because he wouldn’t give up basketball to focus on the 7v7 (pay-for-attention circuits). As a senior, Lance won all state honors as a shooting guard, averaging 20 points and 7.5 boards per game while captaining his team in a long playoff series. Maybe it was the bloodlines: Lance’s father played DB in the CFL for several years after a successful college career.
Eventually, Lance took matters into his own hands and began contacting the school of his dreams: the Big Ten Minnesota Golden Gophers. He has harassed the staff enough to merit an informal visit. According to Lance, it was during this visit that new head coach PJ Fleck offered Lance a condition: he would play it safe. Lance refused.
By the time he got home, Lance noticed that a funny thing had happened: all major recruiting departments had changed his position from “QB” to “athlete,” a designation that greatly complicated the job. Lance’s recruiting interaction with interested programs from that point on. You can see why this might cause someone to lose confidence in the recruiting process.
To be fair, Lance received several FBS offers:
- Iowa offered it to him. As a linebacker.
- Rutgers offered it to him. As a wide receiver.
- Several schools in the Group of Five have offered him the quarterback position: Boise State, Western Michigan and Northern Illinois among them.
But in the end, Lance opted for a lower division school with experience in producing spotty quarterbacks: North Dakota State University. Of course, it’s not the SEC … but take a look at the recent history of the NDSU by placing QBs in the league:
– Lance is destined to be in the top 5 overall picks.
– Easton Stick went to the Rams in Round 5, and before that:
– Carson Wentz came second overall behind Philly, starting all 16 games as a rookie and reaching Pro Bowl status (and garnering some MVP talk) in his second season.
It’s hard to find a university with a better recent record than the NDSU when it comes to developing pro draftable quarterback prospects in any division. Lance was well positioned to explode onto the big stage heading into the 2020 season – the Bison had a signing game against the Oregon Ducks on the schedule. But then Covid-19 struck and the NDSU called off their season. Since then, Lance has trained with professional coaches and the usual coterie of NFL quarterback whisperers before the draft.
Spear looked sharp on his recent pro day, which the 49ers were notably absent from. When asked monday Why the Niners didn’t attend Lance’s pro day, Kyle Shanahan basically said the 49ers were afraid to tip their hand when stuck at 12th pick, and that interest in a better QB from that position Draft could throw an adjustable wrench in their draft plans.
However, now that the Niners are seated in the catbird seat, taking third place behind the Jags and Jets, Shanahan said he has no problem openly focusing on top QBs.
It is worth noting that John Lynch was visibly present at Zach Wilson’s pro BYU day before the Niners closed the trade that took them from 12th to third overall without relinquishing a single asset from the 2021 draft.
Guess the Niners weren’t worried about appearing interested in Zach Wilson. Because that’s not Kyle’s target. There is no list of three. There is a list.
Shanny has decided Hall Niner QB is a festering bubbling over of injury and underperformance that holds an otherwise Super Bowl ready roster.
After diagnosing the disease, Shanahan self-prescribed a cure: it’s time to start this QB boil, let’s operate.
Kevin Thomas Hulten is a journalist and consultant. Follow Kev @bigfacekev on Twitter and Instagram.