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Quarterback Trey Lance is a mystery – always has been. The former North Dakota State quarterback is still an unknown, yet he could be drafted as high as third overall in the 2021 NFL draft. Lance is athletically gifted. He’s strong-armed and very mobile. Can Lance make the jump to the NFL after playing at a small school and suffering through a lost season due to the pandemic?

There’s not a whole lot of college football data on Trey Lance

Quarterback Trey Lance of the North Dakota State Bison runs against the Butler Bulldogs during their game at Target Field on August 31, 2019, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

By all accounts, Lance is a very good quarterback. The problem is that there is very little to prove it. Not only did Lance play at North Dakota State, but he also played very little at North Dakota State.

Because of COVID-19, Lance has played one college football game in the last 15 months. Sports Illustrated called that one game against Central Arkansas the worst game of his college career. North Dakota State won, but Lance threw the only interception of his career in that game. He completed 15 of 30 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

Lance accounted for four touchdowns in the game, throwing for two and rushing for two. He accumulated 143 rushing yards to go along with his 149 passing yards. If that’s considered the worst game of his college career, he’s clearly a good quarterback. As a freshman, he attempted one pass. He tossed 28 touchdowns and completed 66.7% of his passes as a sophomore. As a junior, he played that one game against Central Arkansas.

Lance struggled in his lone game of 2020

NFL scouts appear to be enamored with Lance. Many NFL mock drafts have him being scooped up by the San Francisco 49ers with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. His lone opponent in the last 15 months was Central Arkansas, not exactly a national powerhouse.

In that game against Central Arkansas, built up as a Trey Lance Showcase, Lance struggled. He failed to wow scouts as he completed just 50% of his passes and gave some the impression he was wilting under the bright lights. Lance was left questioning himself about making the jump to the NFL.

He is confident in his ability. So are his parents, Angie and Carlton. The day after the Central Arkansas game, Lance met his parents for breakfast. That game felt like a loss to him. “Am I doing the right thing?” he asked his mother, according to Sports Illustrated.

Lance has always been a mystery

To many, Lance is considered a mystery as the 2021 NFL draft draws near. He’s one of the top five quarterbacks expected to be taken Thursday. Several experts have him going to the San Francisco 49ers with the third overall pick. He could also drop deep in the first round. He’s a mystery and always has been.

Growing up, Lance wasn’t even sure if football was his game. His father, Carlton, thought basketball would be his ticket to college until the heavy load of AAU games resulted in burnout. Carlton did think baseball was his son’s best sport, but a growth spurt made him too tall to be a catcher, according to Sports Illustrated.

He focused on football and excelled. He excelled to a point where his high school teams were blowing everyone out. Lance sat out many second halves as his team averaged 46 points his junior year and better than 50 points his senior season. His college offers were very limited because he was a mystery, just like he is heading into the 2021 NFL draft.