One of the most interesting and debated players in the 2021 NFL Draft is former North Dakota State Bison quarterback Trey Lance, and the San Francisco 49ers landed him with the No. 3 overall pick. Lance essentially had his entire final year of college wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will see a significant increase in defensive talent compared to what he’s used to, but the 49ers believe he has the tools to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL.
In 2020, the FCS season was moved to the spring, but North Dakota State featured a single showcase game in early October against Central Arkansas. Lance completed 15 of 30 passes in that game for 149 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. On the ground, he rushed for 143 yards on 15 carries with two scores in a 39-28 win. In a full season in 2019, Lance put up crazy numbers with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions, completing 66.9% of his passes for 2,786 yards in 16 games.
Lance is a true dual-threat quarterback who can make some incredible throws while being a nightmare for defensive coordinators with his ability as a runner. One of the positives from his game is his football IQ as he really understands the game and should be prepared mentally to perform well at the next level. Lance has ideal size for a quarterback at 6-foot-4, and he could be a quality NFL quarterback for years to come.
The obvious question mark for Lance will be how he will handle the step up in competition. We’ve seen FCS quarterbacks show some success recently, though it’s been inconsistent with Joe Flacco, Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance has played just one full season of college football, so we’ll see how he can transition to the 49ers offense.
Fantasy football impact
No rookie signal-caller is in a better position to excel than Lance. The North Dakota State product can lean on a consistent rushing attack and has plenty of reliable targets to throw to. Greg Kittle is the second-best tight end in the NFL at worst and can be a reliable escape outlet for the rookie. Wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel are elite when it comes to racking up yards after the catch. If Lance can continue to add value with his legs in the pros as he did in college, he could easily be the most productive rookie in the NFL. He’ll have to win the starting job first, though.
The 49ers are built for the long haul on offense. Having multiple core offensive players under 25 years old bodes well for Lance’s long-term success. He could raise the ceiling of San Francisco’s already explosive offense because of his ability to extend plays with his legs. Lance has the ability to become one of the best fantasy football quarterbacks for years to come.