In the coming weeks, we will be going position-by-position and previewing this year’s draft class and the most logical place to start is with the quarterbacks. Before we get into the reports though, it’s important that we explain how our grading scale works. As a scouting staff, we use common terminology to grade every trait that we evaluate. We use a 1-9 scale with a 1 representing a “Reject” grade and a 9 meaning a “Rare” grade for whatever trait we are evaluating. We spend a lot of time in our internal Scout School making sure that our scales are calibrated with one another, and this common scale and set of language is a key aspect to ensuring that our evaluations are consistent (that…and cross-checks).
Additionally, for each position in the book, there are positional grading scales. As opposed to grading traits, these scales apply to stacking the final grades for each prospect. The final quarterback scale is as follows:
|9.0 – 7.0||Pro Bowl level player. Difference-maker|
|6.9 – 6.7||Strong starter. One of the reasons you win|
|6.6 – 6.5||Sufficient Starter. You can win with him|
|6.4 – 6.2||Circumstantial starter or high-quality backup|
|6.1 – 6.0||Developmental. Top traits but needs time.|
|5.9||Career #2 backup|
|5.8||Eventual #2 backup|
|5.7||3rd-string or practice squad candidate|
For our first preview, we will look at North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
Trey Lance: QB Rank 4 of 16 | Final Grade: 6.6
Report by Nathan Cooper
Lance has the raw tools, arm strength, and mobility both inside and outside the pocket to be a potential starter at the next level, however, inconsistency in his release, accuracy, and limited anticipation on his throws will make it a steeper learning curve early in his career.
Trey Lance leads North Dakota State’s pro-style offense predicated on using play-action passes off the run game. He started 17 of 19 games during his career. Being a redshirt sophomore, Lance will still only be 20 years of age at the time of the NFL Draft. He’s a very good athlete with the size and frame needed to withstand hits at the next level. He’s a competitor and shows it both as a passer and runner.
Lance is very mechanical in his drops and exaggerates his steps away from center. His base gets a little wide when striding to throw. He gathers a little bit and rocks forward, which generates a lot of torque and velocity on the ball. His release is elongated, bringing the ball down near his hip at times. His follow-through goes more across his body rather than down, especially in the pocket. It’ll come across his torso and then up parallel to his shoulder. This forces inconsistent release points, as well as accuracy.
On the run, he does a good job of finishing down instead of across, though he rarely gets downhill, nearly always falling to the sideline. When everything goes right mechanically, Lance shows the spot-on accuracy to put the ball where it needs to be and give his receivers a chance to finish the play. He throws the deep ball well, putting air under it when needed and allowing his receiver the chance to go get it. He does a good job using his eyes to look off the safety.
Many of his reads were pre-snap or half-field, however, he’s able to quickly work back to the opposite side when initial reads aren’t there. Overall, he makes good decisions and doesn’t normally put the ball in harm’s way, though he rarely throws with any anticipation. The receiver needs to be open or coming open for him to pull the trigger. With an elongated release and limited anticipation, he’ll have a tougher time fitting balls into smaller windows at the next level.
He shows good poise, manipulating the pocket well and working away from pressure, rarely letting it affect him. When needing to throw under duress, he stays calm and can deliver an accurate ball. If he scrambles, it’s nearly always because no one is open.
He does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and only running if required. Most of their games were blowouts, but when throws and plays were needed, Lance seemed to come through.
Lance is very mobile and moves well as a runner. He’s built like a back and can run like it. He ran a lot of veers and QB powers where he showcased his running ability. As a scrambler, he can get outside the pocket and make plays with his feet. At the end of runs, he lowers his shoulder for extra yards.
Lance projects as a sufficient win-with starting quarterback in the NFL who can thrive in a system that focuses on the run and play-action pass. He has the tools, but his inconsistency and limited experience likely make it more than 2 years until he reaches his full potential.
|Throws deep ball well||Lacks anticipation|
|Generates a lot of torque||Inconsistent release & follow through|
|Threat as a runner||On-the-spot short accuracy|
|Passing||Rushing (Excluding scrambles)||Dropbacks|
|pComp||IQR Detail||Total Points||Total Points Rtg|
|Year||%||(+/-)||Under Pres||No Pres||vs. Man||vs. Zone||Pass||Rush||Total||Per Pass||Per Rush||Per Play|
This article is an excerpt from Sports Info Solutions’ third annual edition of The SIS Football Rookie Handbook, with scouting reports and statistical breakdowns on over 300 college football players who are likely to be drafted or signed as rookie free agents in 2021 (the SIS glossary defines the stats used in this article). The book also includes unique and informative NFL team pages, research deep-dives by the SIS R&D team, research on key football subjects (including injuries), and the NCAA version of their flagship football statistic, Total Points.