While Bears fans wait to see if a trade for Russell Wilson materializes, the team continues to do its due diligence on quarterbacks available in next month’s NFL Draft.
Friday, that took general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy to Fargo, N.D. for North Dakota State’s pro day, where quarterback Trey Lance threw 66 passes in front of a large group of NFL personnel.
Other GMs in attendance included new Lions general manager Brad Holmes, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and Jets general manager Joe Douglas.
The performance was especially important for Lance, whose 2020 season was shortened to just one game because of COVID-19. Lance was shaky that day against Central Arkansas (you can read my review of that game here), throwing the only interception of his 318 college passing attempts.
Friday’s performance was interesting because Lance was far from perfect, yet showed some important areas of improvement. In general, quarterbacks should be nearly flawless from an accuracy standpoint at their pro days because they are throwing in their familiar collegiate environment with receivers they know and no defense. Lance missed more throws than he should of, which is somewhat concerning.
On the other hand, based on the video available on NFL Network, Lance appeared to show improved footwork and a quicker release. He’s still only 20 years old with plenty of room to grow, so it was encouraging to see improvement after a long layoff. Lance has been working with private quarterback coach Quincy Avery, who also mentors Deshaun Watson, and Avery ran the 66-throw workout on Friday. The QB coach told NFL Network that he and Lance scouted the offenses of quarterback-needy teams in the draft and specifically scripted the workout to show off throws that fit those offenses. As a result, the script appeared more difficult than you'd typically see in a pro day, which could explain a few of Lance’s misses.
The traits sure were on display though. The ball explodes out of Lance’s hand on tougher throws to the boundary and he puts beautiful touch on his deep ball. He officially weighed in at 6-3 7/8, 224 pounds and he runs with both speed and toughness.
So is there a fit for the Bears? Lance is enough of a project that he could fall into a range where the Bears can realistically trade up to grab him. On the other hand, he’s making a big jump from the FCS level and only had 318 passing attempts at North Dakota State so expecting him to lead the Bears to an NFC North title in 2021 – which might be necessary to save Pace and Nagy’s jobs – is probably a leap.
But Pace has made it perfectly clear that the Bears are evaluating all options at quarterback and Friday’s trip to Fargo was just the latest indication that that is still the case.