One of the knocks on quarterback Trey Lance as he enters the 2021 draft has been his lack of experience.
While Lance won a national championship with North Dakota State in 2019, because of the pandemic he started only 17 college games. He displayed how dynamic he was in those contests, throwing for 2,786 yards with 28 touchdowns and no interceptions while also recording 1,100 yards rushing with 14 TDs in 2019. But he also did that at the FCS level.
That’s part of why Lance is thought of as more of a project for the NFL. While he clearly has skills, he’ll have to refine them at the game’s highest level.
During a Tuesday interview on NFL Network, Lance addressed being thought of as raw and a project before pointing to another NDSU quarterback as an example of why he can be successful.
“Yeah, hearing those for me, it’s honestly exciting — I get to prove people wrong again,” Lance said. “[That’s] something I feel like I just continue to do and I want to continue to do. So I’m definitely excited to be able to prove people wrong and come in and be ready to go whatever the situation is, whenever the coaching staff sees fit.
“But yeah, I mean, the project QB label is defiantly a thing. And I think whether it’s playing FCS football or whatever, I think Carson [Wentz is] a great example of someone who came in from FCS football level of competition, and all the things people talked about with him, he came in and played really, really well as a rookie. So I think that’s a huge thing for me and my process.”
While the prevailing thought has been that the 49ers will choose Mac Jones at No. 3 overall on Thursday, that is not quite set in stone. But no matter where Lance is selected, he’ll have plenty to prove in his quest to become one of the league’s franchise quarterbacks.