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Jan 11, 2020; Frisco, Texas, USA; North Dakota State Bison quarterback Trey Lance (5) scrambles from James Madison Dukes safety D'Angelo Amos (24) in the third quarterat Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance is widely expected to be drafted in the top half of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and likely not even make it to the New England Patriots at pick No. 15.

But at the same time, there’s been no solid report about any team planning on targeting Lance that high, not like the Jets with Zach Wilson or the 49ers with Mac Jones. Projecting Lance as the pick for the Falcons at 4, the Panthers at 8, or the Broncos at 9, is really just pure conjecture. So what if Lance does fall to the Pats at 15, or even to the 12-13 range for a modest trade-up?

NFL Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah was asked about Lance’s potential fit with the Patriots, and he believes that the team would certainly like that he handled a lot of responsibilities under center for North Dakota State. Lance’s relative lack of literal game experience may have slightly dinged his draft stock, but on the field he set protections and went through progressions while running a complex pro-style offense.

Jeremiah believes Lance will impress whoever he meets prior to the draft with his intangibles, on top of his prototypical size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) and raw athletic ability.

“He’s incredibly intelligent, and that’s — I’ve spent time with him, and I’ve talked to a bunch of teams that have spent time with him and have been kind of blown away through the interview process with him,” Jeremiah said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “The character, the work ethic, all that stuff is exceptional from everybody that you talk to there at North Dakota State. So all those things like we know going in he’s got all that stuff.”

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.