The preseason hype surrounding North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance continues to swell. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler published his summer scouting notes on the expected class of quarterbacks for the 2021 NFL draft, and it was Lance, not Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who ranked second behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
Brugler made a bold — extremely bold — comp for Lance entering the 2020 season.
“In several ways, he is a bigger Kyler Murray,” Brugler wrote. “Both have outstanding twitch as passers with the mobility to escape trouble. Lance is much bigger and still growing while Murray is more naturally accurate. But the main reason I make the comparison is because of their range as instinctive playmakers, stressing out the defense with their creativity and skill.”
Is it a fair comp? Maybe. Lance certainly has a playmaking skill set and he proved against FCS competition that he can win with his legs as much as he can win with his arm, but Murray’s juice — his twitch — is superior to Lance’s and he dominated the best of the best during his tenure as the Sooners’ starting quarterback.
Lance checks every box from a traits perspective, but the one thing evaluators don’t know (and probably won’t know until he arrives at an NFL camp) is how well those traits translate to a higher level of competition.
Those questions don’t exist with Fields, however. Brugler has the Ohio State starter ranked third in his early summer hierarchy.
“Fields has everything required to be a high-end starter in the NFL,” wrote Brugler. “It just comes down to improved consistency, recognition and durability to reach his full potential.”
The smart money is on Fields having another exceptional season in 2020 and cementing his status as one of the top two quarterbacks in the class. He’ll enter the 2021 draft process with as many physical gifts as Lance (if not more) and fewer questions about his ability to exceed at the highest level of competition.
Oftentimes, the NFL draft process becomes overcomplicated. It doesn’t need to be. Fields is an easier evaluation than Lance right now, and if both quarterbacks perform in 2020 like they did in 2019, it’ll be Fields who ranks higher on NFL big boards.