Zero or one? You pick the more impressive number.
If a quarterback is judged on wins and losses, there is no topping Trey Lance’s 17-0 record at North Dakota State. If victories belong to the team, one interception thrown on 318 career passes speaks to individual talent.
When NFL scouts and executives evaluate college quarterbacks, two of the most important questions asked are: Is he a winner? Does he take care of the ball? Lance was perfect and nearly perfect in checking those respective boxes, and now he will showcase his other skills Friday at North Dakota State’s pro day – in front of a contingent that will include Jets general manager Joe Douglas.
“Only 17 games as a starter is hard to get around and the level of competition was not great,” ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller told The Post. “But I thought he made everyone on the field better when he was out there. I love that about his game.”
Lance is one of five quarterbacks who could be taken within the first 15 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. He has been connected to the Falcons, Panthers, Broncos, 49ers and Patriots and could be a viable option for the Jets, especially if they trade back from No. 2.
Outside of presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence, Lance could be the most green, most athletic and have the highest long-term ceiling of the group. In other words, he requires the most projective scouting, patience and quality coaching.
“I could see Bill Belichick having a lot of fun with a guy like Trey Lance,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “The only thing that would hold me back on that is I don’t know if he’s going to be ready to do that right away. But when you talk to the folks at North Dakota State, this kid is incredibly intelligent, which we know the Patriots have always placed a premium on.”
Lance redshirted in 2018, won a FCS national championship in 2019 and played in one game in the fall before North Dakota State moved its football season to the spring. He entered the NFL Draft instead of returning to school and possibly becoming the No. 1 overall pick in 2022.
The lack of experience suggests his next team might have to install a “Lance Package” for specialized usage as a rookie. Lance is compared to Lamar Jackson by Miller and to Steve McNair by Jeremiah.
“He’s not as fast as Lamar,” Miller said, “but if you think about how he could be used early on – deep-ball passing, use him as a runner and on underneath drag routes where he can extend the pocket and keep things open longer, I think he can excel in that way.”
All eyes will be on Lance’s 40-yard dash time, which is expected to register in the elite 4.5-second range. Where Jackson runs with speed, Lance has power, like McNair.
“He’d 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 [them]. I just think there’s a lot of similarities between the two.”