A trade back to select Trey Lance could give the Falcons their next franchise quarterback

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A lot of fuss has been made about Zach Wilson versus Justin Fields, and rightfully so. I think both guys could be fantastic franchise quarterbacks in Arthur Smith’s system learning under Matt Ryan, but taking a quarterback fourth overall is risky for Atlanta. I firmly believe that Arthur Smith will get the best out of Matt Ryan for at least three more seasons, and that would only leave one year with a fifth-year option left for any quarterback selected in the first round.

That also cuts both ways; if Matt Ryan is injured or doesn’t play well, Kurt Benkert is currently the only option available on the roster. I don’t really care for any of the quarterbacks outside of the first five of Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Lance, and Jones — but you can read about some late-round options. So why does Trey Lance make sense?

 

Strengths

Trey Lance has some god-given abilities that most quarterbacks could only dream of. Standing at 6’4” and 225 pounds, his body should be able to hold up in the NFL. That’s important, too, because this kid is hands down the best athlete and scrambler in the entire quarterback class. He is exceptional at improvising out of the pocket and does a good job of manipulating his arm angle — something Patrick Mahomes is the best at in the NFL. He has a nice mix of zip and touch, and his ability to throw to all three levels of the field indicates his arm talent will only improve with coaching.

Lance does a great job of limiting mistakes and taking what the defense gives him. He burst onto the NFL’s radar when he notoriously threw zero interceptions over 287 attempts with a 68% completion percentage in 2019. Trey is extremely poised in the pocket and never seems to lose his cool. He only improvises when he needs to, but he can still pick up those extra yards when nobody is open. For as fast as he is, he is incredibly tough as a runner.

 

 

Weaknesses

As incredibly gifted as he is, you cannot deny the lack of data — Lance has played less than 19 FCS games. Most of that is not to his fault, but it’s reality. He is extremely raw, and if he’s expected to start day one for a team — I think he would struggle mightily. That’s not as big of an issue with Atlanta, but if he was to go to the Jets or Washington Football team, I think he would develop poorly in a trial by fire. He certainly needs A LOT of seasoning, but Atlanta is a perfect situation for him.

He should not have played in his one matchup against Central Arkansas in 2020. While the box score isn’t a great indicator of future success, he played pretty poorly, completing half of his passes and throwing a pick. In that same breath, he shredded them on the ground for over ten yards per carry, adding two scores with his feet.

Naturally, the gunslinger that he is, sometimes Lance can get mechanically wonky. He wants to make something out of nothing, and while he limits his mistakes, this playstyle sacrifices some accuracy at times. Please don’t take that as him being inaccurate — he places the ball well and throws his receivers open at times.

 

Team Fit

Well, for starters, I think you can still get him by trading back. Like pretty much any non-Trevor Lawrence prospect in 2021, his draft stock is all over the place. With no combine in place, evaluating guys is even harder, but I’ll turn to the film to decide on him. I see all of the gifts you could ask for in an NFL quarterback. Lance won’t be asked to do too much, and he’s still very young at 20 years old. Lance is young enough and raw enough to fit the timeline. Still, he’s also gifted enough to develop into a franchise NFL quarterback properly and hopefully makes the transition to the post-Matt Ryan era a smooth one.

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