NFL Draft 2021: Why Trey Lance Could Fall to Bears, Ryan Pace at No. 20

Simms: Why Trey Lance could fall to Bears at No. 20 overall originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

If the Bears don’t land their next starting quarterback via trade, or sign a free agent when the league year begins on March 17, that doesn’t mean the team is locked into trotting Nick Foles back on the field in 2021. Of course, there’s always the draft. For the first time since 2018, the Bears have a first-round pick, so it could be a great opportunity to draft a new face of the franchise, right? Well by the time the Bears’ pick rolls around at No. 20 overall, many of the big-ticket names might be off the board already.

However, Sunday Night Football’s Chris Simms said on Monday he believes one quarterback with a first-round draft grade could fall down draft boards on April 29: Trey Lance.

“Trey Lance is the one I’m really intrigued by,” Simms said. “For me, right now, just based off my scouting, people have Trey Lance going top-10, I don’t see that at all. I mean, at all. To me, my early statement would be, Trey Lance is way too high and Mac Jones is way too low. I would bet you that flips at some point.”

Our very own Adam Hoge agrees, and even had Lance going to the Bears at No. 20 overall in his first mock draft following the Super Bowl. In that mock draft, Hoge enumerated several reasons why Lance could fall to the Bears, and why drafting Lance carries some risk.

“There are legitimate questions about the level of competition (FCS) and his development, especially considering Lance only played in one game in 2020,” Hoge said. “And that’s coming from personnel evaluators I’ve spoken with – not me. While North Dakota State uses a pro-style offense, the 2019 playbook was very basic and the Bison rarely opened it up with Lance’s big arm. In fact, in 19 career games, Lance only attempted more than 23 passes in a game twice. In total, there are only 318 college passing attempts to evaluate. To put that in perspective, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones all threw more than 318 passes in 2020 alone and the only reason Justin Fields was limited to 225 this season is because Ohio State only played eight games. But even Fields has 618 career passing attempts to evaluate.”

However Simms’ reservations about Lance’s NFL prospects run a bit deeper.

“I know he only played one game, but I would be very concerned with how he threw the football,” Simms said. “I would even be concerned with how they called the game. It shows you they’re even scared to throw the football with him. Even the tapes from before that, from last year, it’s a run-first approach. He’s got a very wild motion. The ball can go anywhere with him. So that’s one where, in the very early stages, I go he’s overrated based off of my TV scouting.”

To be fair, Simms said this is all based on initial impressions he had, watching games at home. He’s going to start digging deeper into each of these QBs starting this week.

On the other hand, Hoge also wrote why Lance could be a great fit for the Bears after watching his lone game in 2020, despite some of the concerns.

“As a redshirt freshman in 2019, all Lance did was go 16-0, win a national championship, complete 66.9 percent of his passes, throw for 2,786 yards, throw for 28 touchdowns and run for 14 more. Oh, and he didn’t throw a single interception. That’s right. Lance went into his 17th career college game Saturday with zero interceptions.

“Lance can run, but he’s also twitchy and can shed tackles with his strength. It’s a pretty deadly combination. The arm is plenty strong and while I still think there’s something to prove with the accuracy, you can’t really quibble with a guy with zero interceptions in a full college football season, even at the FCS level. Another strength is the offense in which he plays. The Bison huddle, they run plays under center with play-action, and they run plays out of the shotgun. They run the ball and the tight ends are heavily involved. It’s not a very exotic offense, but it translates to the NFL and, quite honestly, there are similarities to what the Bears have been running in 2020.”

None of this back and forth is any new. Each year we dissect minute details from every quarterback trying to discern who will have the best career. There were pros and cons that scouts found in Mitchell Trubisky’s body of work, just like there were pros and cons that scouts found in Patrick Mahomes’ body of work.

Evaluating talent at the quarterback position is one of the toughest things to do at the NFL level. Unfortunately for the Bears, they find themselves doing it for the second year in a row.

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