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2021 Patriots draft profile: Would New England be willing to draft the lottery ticket that is Trey Lance?

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Butler v North Dakota State Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

I don’t know if any of you have heard this recently, but the New England Patriots need a quarterback. They had this guy named Tom Brady for about two decades, who was pretty good and they haven’t been able to successfully replace him since his departure last March. The initial replacement, Cam Newton, didn’t quite live up to Brady’s standards (shocking, I know) and is now a free agent again looking for a place to call home in 2021, but more on that later.

As things currently stand, the Patriots will have only two quarterbacks on their roster come March 1st. Third-year man Jarrett Stidham, who spent most of his two seasons as the primary backup to Brady and Newton, and practice squad QB Jake Dolegala. Things will obviously change as the Patriots will add a few quarterbacks to the roster prior to training camp.

There are many options out there, the free agent market has players like Newton, Jacoby Brissett, and Ryan Fitzpatrick who could be cost-effective options while the team continues to search for a long-term plan. They could explore trade targets like Marcus Mariota or Jimmy Garoppolo as well, who could be viewed as multi-year options. Or they could take their chances in the draft, where the high-risk/high-reward player we’re talking about today could very well be available.

Name: Trey Lance

Position: Quarterback

School: North Dakota State (Junior)

Opening day age: 21

2020 Opt-Out*

Size: 6’4”, 225 lbs

Expected round: 1st

Strengths: Lance has amazing physical tools. He’s got a cannon attached to his right shoulder that will allow him to push the ball down the field with ease. Where he sets himself apart from others, though, is in his athleticism. He has no problem tucking the ball away and running around/through/over a defender to pick up the tough yards. He’s an incredible runner of the football and overall playmaker.

Perhaps his biggest strength is something we haven’t seen on the field but have heard in stories from those around the North Dakota State program: his ability to quickly pick up a system, something he did at NDSU. Bison quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg, has publicly stated that Lance called out all of the protections for his offensive line, and at times had called plays for the offense as a 19-year-old sophomore. He was pretty damn good at it too as the Bison went 16-0 and won yet another FCS National Championship.

Weaknesses: The comparisons to Josh Allen start with the positives but unfortunately end with the negatives. There are real issues with consistency and accuracy. Not that Lance will straight up miss receivers but he’ll sail a ball or two and saw some of his throws hang up in the air.

As a runner, he at times falls into the “hero ball” mentality, trying to make plays that just aren’t worth the risk. That is a problem that would easily be fixed with some effective coaching, however.

Depending on who you ask, the age/one-year starter combo could be viewed as a positive because of the untapped potential. For a team that has a whole lot of capital riding on that potential, it is probably a negative just based off of the amount of nerve-wracking time it takes to get him ready.

What would be his role? Trey Lance will undoubtedly be given a chance to become a franchise quarterback at some point. His talent level doesn’t come along very often, if ever. I described him as a lottery ticket because that’s what he is. He’s potential personified and if all works out the way he and his future franchise hope, he’s the guy you build your team around for a decade-plus.

Who’s his competition? A first-round quarterback doesn’t have competition, he’s either the guy or he has a placeholder. In a dream scenario, Cam Newton would be his placeholder. Possessing comparable skills to a young Newton, Lance could learn behind him in hopes of becoming the player and leader that Newton is at his best. In turn, Newton would get another opportunity to prove his worth to the NFL and finish what he started in New England, this time with a complete roster and full offseason.

Why the Patriots? After not having to think about their quarterback situation for the better part of three decades (we didn’t forget about Drew Bledsoe) the Patriots finally have to worry about who is going to lead their team into the future. Why not swing for the fences?

Why not the Patriots? If New England wants to guarantee themselves a shot at Lance, the team will have to mortgage its immediate future. Moving ahead of the Carolina Panthers would likely cost the Patriots two first-rounders and another Day Two pick. Does that sound like something Bill Belichick would do?

Verdict: If given the opportunity to draft Trey Lance, New England should be sprinting to the podium. You don’t hit home runs looking at three straight pitches down the pipe. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you find your guy you do everything you can to get him.” If the Patriots identify Trey Lance as their guy, they should do anything they can to get him.