Re-signing Cam Newton wasn’t the only big quarterback news in New England on Friday. According to Albert Breer, the Patriots have a scout present at Trey Lance’s Pro Day at North Dakota State. Lance is considered one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, and is currently projected to be a top-10 pick.
Included on Breer’s list of those expected to be in attendance at Lance’s Pro Day is Patriots’ national scout Matt Groh. Groh is one of the most experienced scouts working for Bill Belichick, having been with the team since 2011. He wasn’t alone – 30 of the 32 NFL teams send at least one representative to the FargoDome on Friday.
Lance is one of the most intriguing high-level quarterback prospects the draft has seen in recent years. He has incredible natural skill as a passer and rusher, but is severely lacking in experience. In his lone year as the starter at NDSU in 2019, Lance threw 28 touchdowns and no interceptions over 16 games, leading the Bison to an FCS national championship.
With the 2020 FCS season canceled due to COVID, North Dakota State was able to set up a showcase game in order to give scouts one last look at Lance. Facing Central Arkansas back in October, he went 15-of-30 throwing the ball for 149 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. He also ran for 143 yards on 15 carries, scoring two more touchdowns on the ground.
Among the three quarterbacks expected to go after Trevor Lawrence at the top of the draft, Lance is the biggest wild card. His raw ability is undeniable, but the lack of playing time, specifically against elite opponents (he never faced an FBS team) could leave some teams considering the other, more tested options in Justin Fields and Zach Wilson.
Either way, it’s highly unlikely Lance makes it out of the top 10 picks, meaning the Patriots would have to trade up to get him. Such a move isn’t one typically made by Bill Belichick, but his team isn’t in the same spot it’s typically been in for most of his tenure.
Following Newton’s signing on Friday morning, multiple reports indicated the Patriots likely aren’t done adding at the quarterback position. Given the team is reportedly not enthusiastic about the current free agent options, and were stonewalled by the 49ers on a potential Jimmy Garoppolo trade, that could mean the Patriots still plan to be aggressive in the draft. The most logical aggressive move is getting trading into the sixth-to-eighth overall range to take Lance.
That idea was even floated during the broadcast of Lance’s workout on NFL Network. Daniel Jeremiah noted the similarities in Lance’s and Newton’s game, and mentioned that Newton – on a one year deal – would be an ideal teacher and bridge for Lance.
By all accounts, Lance was thoroughly impressive at his Pro Day, meaning the price to acquire him will only go up in the month and a half between now and the draft. Will that price him out of the Patriots plans? Or will Bill Belichick make the most aggressive draft day trade of his career?
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.