North Dakota State coach: Trey Lance ‘needs to see more pictures’

Former North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance is an intriguing NFL prospect after only one full season as a starter at the FCS level.

“He needs to see more pictures, so I think there’s always the ability to get more and more comfortable with what he’s seeing, what defenses do from safety rotations,” North Dakota State coach Matt Entz said. “He can make all of the throws. He can extend plays. He’s comfortable in the pocket. He keeps his eyes downfield.”

Lance, who had his Pro Day on Friday, went through his workout in front of 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams, including the Falcons. General manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith were on hand in Fargo, N.D.

“It was awesome,” Lance said. “It was a ton of fun. … I thought we had an awesome day. Clean day. Obviously, missed some a few, but I thought overall it went really well.”

Lance is considered a dual-threat quarterback. He’s been working out with Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. Lance wanted to impress NFL executives, coaches and scouts with his footwork.

“That was the biggest thing for me, just being as clean and as polished as possible going into this,” Lance said. “For the last six months, having this opportunity to kind of get right in those little things and be clean, polished and efficient in all of my moves has been definitely a big emphasis for me.”

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Lance with former NFL quarterback Steve McNair. Others have compared him with Watson.

“I think both of those are obviously great people to be compare to,” Lance said. “At the end of the day, they’ve both done what I want to do in the National Football League. Obviously, Deshaun is still doing what I want to do.”

Lance, 20, elected to enter the draft after North Dakota State didn’t play in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. He led the Bison to the FCS national championship in 2019. He posted a 17-0 record as a starter.

In 2019, he passed for 28 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 1,100 yards and had 14 rushing touchdowns.

Lance may have to alter his attacking running style in the NFL.

“I understand that guys are bigger, faster and stronger at the next level,” Lance said. “So, I’ll definitely continue to pick and choose my battles with that.”

He hopes to compete for a starting job, right away.

“My mindset toward is that I’m going to come in to compete, regardless of where I’m at,” Lance said when asked if he’d wouldn’t mind sitting for a year like Patrick Mahomes did in Kansas City after he was drafted 10th in 2017. “I don’t think teams would want me to come in any other way. That’s my mindset towards it.”

The Falcons hold the fourth overall pick in the draft, and if they select Lance, he would have to sit behind Matt Ryan, who’s under contract for three more seasons. Ryan, the only NFL MVP in franchise history, turns 36 in May.

“I’m a competitor first,” Lance said. “First and foremost, that’s my mindset toward it. Just excited to get to, regardless of anywhere. Just to have the opportunity to play in the National Football League, but yeah, I’m going to be as ready as I possibly can to go whenever the coaching staff needs me to go.”

He was asked if he was familiar with the Falcons’ offensive weapons.

“Yes, sir,” Lance said.

He asked to elaborate.

“No, I’m not going to do that,” Lance said. “Appreciate you, though.”

Lance would be the second high-profile quarterback to come out of North Dakota State in recent years. The Eagles selected Carson Wentz No. 2 overall in 2016. Also, Bison quarterback Easton Stick was a fifth-round pick of the Chargers in 2019.

Well, you know I don’t want to compare the three,” Bison quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg said. “We’ve had a lot of success with all three of them.”

Then he went on to compare them.

“They’re all different, you know Carson, he’s longer (at 6-foot-5),” said Hedberg, who played in the NFL for the 1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “He was just a different type of quarterback than Easton or Trey. Easton was …. very cerebral and made a lot of great plays. He was just a winner for us. Trey is just an extremely good athlete that really processes well and has tremendous poise. The bottom line with all three of them, they’re big-time competitors.”

NFL teams want to know if Lance can read defenses.

“He’s able to see coverages very well, and I think it’s going to be a little bit more complex obviously at the NFL level than the college level, but I think he’ll learn that game, as he progresses through his time in the NFL,” Hedberg said.

NFL coaches and scouts have had questions about Lance.

“Well, I think the biggest thing is (that they) wonder if playing just the 17 games, if that gives him enough pictures that he’s seen ... you know, different pictures from defenses,” Hedberg said. “I think that’s the biggest question, I think that I’ve gotten from different people. It would have been nice to have a full season this fall for him this past fall, so he could have played potentially 15 more games or so, but that didn’t happen…I think that would have helped him in the long run.”

Now that the Pro Day is over, Lance is ready to meet with teams. Because of the coronavirus pandemic there will not be any private workouts this season.

“A whole lot of Zoom Meetings, as many as I can possible do with teams,” Lance said. “Get in front of as many people as I possibly can and get to know whoever is going to be my future coach.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 2.0: Top five picks

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

2. New York Jets: Justin Fields, (QB, Ohio State)

3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell, (OT, Oregon)

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