Career Recap: North Dakota State has dominated the FCS, ripping off a string of National Championships. The Bison have produced a lot of good NFL talent, including Philadelphia Eagles franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, and Lance could continue that tradition in the 2021, 2022 or even the 2023 NFL Draft. Last year as a redshirt freshman, he led the Bison to an undefeated season and another National Championship. Lance produced a huge 2019, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran for 1,100 yards with 14 touchdowns on the ground - his rushing yardage was actually bigger, but college football deducts sack yardage from a quarterback's rushing totals.
2020 Season Outlook: North Dakota State is a dynasty at its level of college football. To start off his redshirt sophomore season, Lance will get to take on a Power Five program in Oregon. Even though the Ducks lost a lot of talent to the 2020 NFL Draft, they should be a good test for Lance.
After the opener, Lance should dominate his competition in 2020, as long as he stays healthy. The Bison are far more talented than their regular season opponents, and they typically don't see real tests until they get to the playoffs.
Skill-Set Summary: From a skill-set perspective, Lance fits in with other other recent first-round prospects. Lance's size, arm strength, running ability, and big-play potential are in line with other recent first-round picks, including Pat Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen and Jordan Love.
As a passer, Lance definitely has next-level ability. He has a strong arm capable of making all the throws at for the NFL. Lance shows the ability to fire fastballs to the sideline and has no problem airing out deep balls. Overall, Lance has good accuracy, and his deep-ball precision is very impressive. Consistently, Lance lofts passes downfield to lead his receivers over the top of coverage. Lance also shows the ability to function in the quick passing game in the short part of the field, firing some quick bullets to move the ball.
One of Lance's impressive traits from 2019, especially for such a young player, was his poise. He was very calm in the pocket, and when rush was closing around him, it seemed to be a non-factor to him. He would use his legs to buy time and do a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield. When he couldn't dodge tacklers, you also would see him use his big frame to shake defenders free. Lance displayed amazing pocket presence as a redshirt freshman.
The poise plays into Lance making good decisions and protecting the football. He had some breaks go his way last year, and he would have thrown some interceptions if he made some of the same throws in the NFL, or at a higher level of college football, but overall, he does a nice job of placing his passes where his receivers can make a play and he is not reckless with the football.
The mobility factors into Lance being a dangerous threat on the ground. A trait that jumps off the screen about Lance is his running ability. He is a hard-charging runner who has quickness with a burst to hit the hole and is a load to tackle. Routinely, Lance lowers a shoulder and flat out run over defenders. He could be a running dual-threat quarterback at the next level. As a pro, Lance should run less than he does in college, and that is something that will have to be coached out of him to protect him from injury.
Lance is a very young player who will only be a redshirt sophomore in 2020. Thus, it isn't surprising that he has some raw elements to his game and needs development. The most pressing issue to address is field vision. Lance has issues seeing the field, as he can lock onto his primary read, take off running when his first read is covered, and be slow to look off and work through his progressions.
Lance has to speed up the process of looking through his potential targets for the NFL. At North Dakota State, Lance has receivers running wide open a lot as well. For the next level, he will need to get more comfortable throwing into tight windows. He flashes that ability, but given his level of competition, it is something that will probably need to be developed at the pro level.
In speaking to some team sources who saw Lance in person while scouting North Dakota State, they feel the potential is there for Lance, but they need to see more before feeling he is worthy of being a high first-round pick.
"I think he's a very good player, but at that position, I'm a firm believer in body of work and he has a very small sample size at this point," said a national scout. "He's got tools to work, and he's not the first young pup to be pushed up. Every year there's someone, but we have to let it play out."
"Recent history has not been kind to the 1-year wonder surge guys. It has not been ideal for the picks of guys like Mitch Trubisky, Blake Bortles, Dwayne Haskins, DeShone Kizer, Paxton Lynch, etc. At [Lance's] level of competition, you definitely want to have more than good season. I like him though, but not ready to crown him just yet."
With the success of former Bison quarterback Carson Wentz, that helps pave the way for Lance to be a high draft pick. But as the scout said above, teams want to see more in 2020 before they anoint him as a potential franchise quarterback.
2021 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2020 season, Lance has the potential to emerge as a first-round pick and possibly a high pick in the opening slate. Team sources say they want to see more from Lance before they project him that high.