On Friday the Atlanta Falcons were well-represented at quarterback Trey Lance’s Pro Day, with both head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot in attendance. To be sure, Lance wasn’t the only North Dakota State player being showcased; the Bison also have a top offensive tackle prospect, Dillon Radunz, one who has drawn comparisons to Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews.
But Lance—6-foot-3 7/8 and 224 pounds—was the main attraction, and by all accounts fared exceptionally well during a workout he called “pretty much my Super Bowl.” That’s one of several interesting quotes in a piece by SI’s Albert Breer that explains how Lance prepared for his Pro Day.
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For one, his workout took on elevated importance because of the lack of a Combine. NFL observers were also especially anxious to get a look at him, coming off a season in which he appeared in only one game.
Worse yet, that October 2020 game was a dud by his standards. He completed just half of his passes for 149 yards and threw the first interception of his college career, though the Bison did emerge victorious, winning 39-28 over Central Arkansas.
Lance Completed 88 Percent of His Passes on Friday
Lance’s Pro Day went a lot better, as he completed 58 of 66 passes while running concepts from Arthur Smith’s offense as well as that of Kyle Shanahan. Notes the aforementioned Breer: “The idea was simple for [Quincy] Avery and Lance, and that was to show the part that … teams, and Lance himself, missed in the fall: the football itself.
“As part of that effort, Avery [Lance’s QB coach] plucked concepts from a number of different NFL schemes—pieces of Kyle Shanahan’s Niners offense, and what Falcons coach Arthur Smith did in Tennessee, for example … to try to give teams there a feel for how Lance projects.”
Lance ‘Looked Great’
In terms of how Lance looked at his workout: I thought he hit a home run,” said Kim Jones of NFL Network about the 20-year-old quarterback.
Her colleague Lance Zierlein agreed, saying, “He look[ed] great. He looks great at the position—body type was very good…. The feet looked good, the base looked good, threw with good velocity. The ball placement was a little iffy from time to time and the deep ball stuff was a little bit up and down, but what I got from the workout itself is that he really seemed to have a lot of command,” offered Zierlein on Friday, adding that Lance also is well prepared to make the transition to the pro game, in part because he played in a pro style system.
“What really stands out to me … his intelligence is unbelievable,” added Zierlein. “North Dakota State asks their quarterbacks to set their own protections. And then the process from Monday through Friday in terms of what they are asking their quarterbacks to do, that’s pro style setup as well and pro style preparation. That’s something that is going to put him way at the top of the list when teams talk to him and put him on the whiteboard.”
As for one other perspective from an NFL Network commentator:
“He’s going to want a couple throws back but to me this was all about horsepower,” said Daniel Jeremiah. “When you watch this workout you saw him power the football…. Once he put his back foot in the ground that ball jumps,” he noted, highlighting one long pass that drew cheers from the assembled coaches and scouts.
“He was able to stretch the field with that power arm. Some touch throws got away from him, particularly to the right side, but this guy, he is dripping with ability,” concluded Jeremiah, before drawing a comparison to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
PFF Mock Draft Has Falcons Trading Up to Get Lance
In the wake of Lance’s workout, Pro Football Focus published a new mock draft that has the Falcons trading with the Dolphins to move into Miami’s spot at No. 3 overall to select Lance.
“The only franchise that traded up in the draft more consistently than the Atlanta Falcons under former general manager Thomas Dimitroff was the New Orleans Saints, where new GM Terry Fontenot rose through the ranks before becoming the man in charge in Atlanta,” notes PFF’s Brad Spielberger. “New Orleans traded up 13 times from 2011-20—with zero trade downs.”
“Lance started just one season at FCS North Dakota State, so this shouldn’t signal an immediate end to the Matt Ryan era, as he’ll need time to adjust to the NFL game,” concludes Spielberger, who has the Jacksonville Jaguars taking QB Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall and the New York Jets grabbing QB Zach Wilson (BYU) at No. 2.
Lance finished his North Dakota State career with a 17-0 record. In his one full season as the NDSU starting quarterback (2019), he completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions, adding 1,100 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground.
You can watch Lance’s Pro Day workout here.
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