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Thursday Explanations: Trey Lance vs. Justin Fields

The day when we explain—or clarify—things we said earlier in the week.

NCAA Football: FCS Championship Game-North Dakota State vs James Madison Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Each Tuesday night, I may or may not say things that make zero sense. Tim and Kevin (and really the entire board) are quick to remind me that once again I have said something that makes no sense. Indignance sets in as I wonder—and then probably state—why it is really them who are wrong or not hearing me.

Though in all fairness, it is more likely that I have just said something that makes zero sense.

On this week’s show, I think one thing I was trying to say definitely hit T the wrong way. It happened around the 35:00 minute mark, as we were talking about the top quarterbacks heading for the draft. We had photoshopped some college quarterbacks in WFT gear last week (before the huge win over Pittsburgh, which changed things considerably for us in the draft), and we ran through them. The most liberating—and clear—point that I made was how amazing it is that we have played our way out of the Trevor Lawrence conversation. It was always a loser’s debate, about losing, for a losing fanbase. That ain’t us anymore. Trevor will be awesome I am sure...just not for us, because we aren’t a crappy enough team to be in position to take him. This is a great thing.

No, it was when we started covering two other signal-callers in particular that I maybe had trouble fully articulating my thoughts. Those signal-callers are Trey Lance and Justin Fields. I like one way more than the other as my future franchise quarterback, and it seems to defy some folks’ reasoning.

Look, both of these amazing athletes are going to get shots to be “the guy” for a team very soon, and both deserve it. Justin Fields is a prototypical alpha dog kind of player, which no fan should or would ever NOT want on their team. His unique package of physical gifts makes offensive coordinators drool, and I would be an idiot to suggest his future is anything but bright. Yet I love Trey Lance more.

I don’t think this is about me trying to outsmart anyone (not gonna happen) or me trying to “get in on the ground floor” of something so I can be right later. When I see Trey Lance, I just see something that makes me pause. It’s like in the movie “Almost Famous” when one of the Band-Aids comments about William Miller’s aura (she said it was fantastic, and purple, which to this day I have no idea what that even means).

Trey Lance exudes something when I watch him play that makes me want him on my team more than Justin Fields. Further, it is that “something” that I feel will serve Trey Lance almost no matter where he goes next season. When I said that Justin Fields is going to need “more help” and has to “go to the right place,” it was in comparison to Lance. I mean, every player benefits from going to the “right place.” And in this scheme-specific era of the NFL, more often than not teams are making their selection based on fit as much as talent. (I even pointed out that I think the WFT would be one of the places where Fields would be set up for success, with Ron Rivera, Scott Turner, Alex Smith, Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson.)

Since these players will be first-round picks, expectations will be high for both of them, but the shine on a guy like Justin Fields is going to weigh heavier—in my worthless opinion. He is certainly capable of meeting even the loftiest of expectations, but that is a dangerous game at the next level. As a fan of a team who has saddled countless top picks with unrealistic expectations, I am somewhat colored when it comes to this. At this point, I would rather have the player who is trying to prove to the world that it doesn’t matter where you go to school than the one who just ripped through a power five conference. Things tend to equalize around you at the pro level—you sink and swim much more based on things out of your control, as opposed to just being the best player on the field.

Trey Lance has exhibited leadership and poise in a way that makes me think he has the edge over Fields when it comes to being “the guy” in an NFL locker room. First you have to be a great player—which I think both can be—but then you have to have those other x-factor personality traits that elevate you in the eyes of your peers. We are going to be inundated with stories about how Lance has handled his business throughout this pandemic between now and the draft (spoiler alert: they make him look pretty damn awesome). It’s gonna be hard to convince a lot of people smarter than me that they should be compared somehow to the eye-popping highlights of Justin Fields’ game the last few months.

Ultimately, my observation about Justin Fields needing to be drafted in the right place more than Lance is about my belief that if Fields isn’t great right away wherever he goes, it hurts him more than it would Lance. Now THAT is something pretty much everyone can find a way to disagree with and tear apart. Haha...

The even more relevant fact here is that the WFT has played its way out of the Justin Fields conversation as well. He is regarded as the #2 quarterback and prospect in this draft by many, and we won’t be drafting #2 overall this time around. Depending on how the draft order lines up, it is possible that Trey Lance is sitting there when the WFT makes its selection (though I doubt it). Either way, two teams and their fanbases are going to be happy at next year’s draft when these two names are called. I would be ecstatic to have either of these guys, and just felt that it required a little bit of explaining.

Check out the show every Tuesday night around 8:30 PM EST. Subscribe for free here and join the conversation, and then come back here on Thursdays when I try and clean it up.

Follow me on Twitter @ItsRainingKen if you do that kind of thing. See you next week!