By Alex Kurpeski
In the build-up to the NFL Draft, television analysts love to discuss “boom-or-bust” prospects. Sometimes these players turn into transcendent stars like Josh Allen and D.K Metcalf. Other times, teams get left holding the bag, with draft picks like Johnny Manziel and Corey Coleman standing out as busts. Speculation is what makes the NFL Draft so fun and it will be quite interesting to see if these three players can make it work.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State
When discussing boom or bust prospects, there’s no better example than Trey Lance. Lance’s upside is tied into his statistical dominance in the NCAA subdivision, as well as his superb measurables and athleticism. But how does he fit into the NFL? We’ve seen high profile subdivision passers like Carson Wentz and Jimmy Garopollo exposed for having poor field vision and ball placement this decade, a direct result of the level of competition that they faced — in my opinion, that is. Lance is the definition of a guy who can “make NFL throws”.
This is a ridiculous throw in terms of accuracy and ball placement! Far hash to the corner pylon, in the bucket!
Don’t forget how talented Trey Lance is guys!
— Damian Parson 🏈 (@DP_NFL) December 3, 2020
At 6’3, 230 lbs, Lance is reminiscent of a young Colin Kaepernick, who entered into the NFL as a rare product of the Pistol offense. Like Kaep, the North Dakota State product is an extremely dominant runner who can throw a nice fastball into tight windows when he has to. But as we’ve seen with many run-first players like Kaepernick, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin II, teams will figure you out if you cannot dominate with your passing skills. While Lance has all the qualities a team could want in a franchise QB, a successful transition from a one-year starter at the FCS level to a legitimate NFL quarterback will take a lot of work. The organization that drafts him will need to hire a top of the line coaching staff, while also giving Lance a long enough leash so that he can learn the hard lessons. If he can figure it out then we could be talking about the next megastar. But if not, this could be yet another cautionary tale for teams regarding non-power conference passers.
Zach Wilson, BYU
I talked quite a bit about Wilson in my article from earlier in the week, so I’ll keep his section relatively short. Wilson’s 2020 campaign has been something special, but it’s come against a rather weak schedule. While he’s got some extraordinary arm talent and the mobility that NFL teams adore in a modern-day quarterback, Wilson’s ball placement and decision-making have been questionable in the past.
— Joseph Yun 🔰 (@2Yoon2ZeroBlitz) December 13, 2020
Moreover, his fit in traditional NFL offenses is unclear, as the Cougars play almost exclusively out of the shotgun, giving Wilson a ton of time to throw (and look good in the process). He’s had some injury concerns in the past as well, and he may need to add some weight to avoid becoming an injury-prone professional. While these concerns are all valid, Wilson’s upside is as high as any passer in this class and he could easily become a Pro Bowl talent at the NFL level.
Newman was talked about as a potential first-rounder heading into this season. Opting out hasn’t hurt his stock exactly, but he’s been surpassed by the likes of Wilson, Mac Jones, and Kyle Trask, with Kellen Mond possibly ahead of him in the pecking order too. With only one year of starting experience, Newman’s portfolio isn’t incredibly impressive, but from what we saw in 2019 he could be a very good NFL player. I had a lot to say about Newman in my Discovering Devys series from this summer, so if you’d like to know some more detailed things about him check that out, as not much has changed since then regarding his tape (because he hasn’t played).
Grade on Deep Throws (20+ yards):
1. Joe Burrow: 98.5
2. Jamie Newman: 96.5
3. Dustin Crum: 96.3
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 11, 2020
At 6’4, 230 lbs, Newman is a big-bodied passer with tremendous mobility. While his deep accuracy is an item of concern, Newman does a good job of getting the ball to his receivers on short and intermediate throws. In the right system, he could develop into a decent starter, but given the lack of tape on him and his advanced age (already 23 years old), it’s possible that Newman is another fool’s gold prospect.