Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen knows what it’s like to enter an NFL draft with a dubious college résumé among other critiques, and in advising Trey Lance in an epic new commercial, the superstar signal-caller essentially told the North Dakota State prodigy to block out the noise.
Bradley Gelber of The Bills Wire shared the advertisement of Allen speaking directly to Lance about getting ready to make the leap to the NFL, and how to handle the attention, nitpicking and adversity that comes with it.
“I’ve heard it all before. ‘You’re not good enough to play in the NFL. You’re not tested. The competition’s too weak,'” Allen passionately said directly to the camera. “Ignore them.”
Then Allen just tells Lance to get between the white lines, do his thing and “make some noise.”
It’s pretty cool. Although the crazy skill set that Allen possesses is widely viewed as unmatched, aside from perhaps Patrick Mahomes, there are more similarities than you’d think between the Bills field general and Lance.
Allen wasn’t heavily recruited and wound up playing junior college before landing at the University of Wyoming. Hardly the powerhouse of programs, Allen was often playing with the less-talented team on the field, and his 56.2% completion rate didn’t seem like it’d translate well to the pro game.
While Lance is also from relatively humble beginnings at the FCS level, North Dakota State is an absolute juggernaut at that level. In his only season as starter, Lance showed off better accuracy than Allen had at the same point in his career and threw 28 touchdown to zero interceptions and ran for 1,100 yards and 14 scores.
But while the Bison’s pro-style offense sets Lance up well to play earlier than expected in the NFL, it was very much built around the running game. In other words, Allen was asked to play the football equivalent of basketball’s “hero ball.” Lance simply had to manage the game and could often get away with just about anything thanks to the superior talent around him and his own exotic skill set.
Both players are excellent, explosive ball-carriers with great size and have cannons for right arms. Lance’s accuracy is less of a concern, but his level of competition and lack of starts (17 to Allen’s 25) are bigger knocks on him.
It wasn’t until his third season as a pro where things really started to click for Allen. Thankfully for him, the Bills showed patience as he struggled through a couple uneven seasons to begin his career. And wow, did Buffalo’s patience ever pay off, as Allen went from possibly veering into bust territory to an All-Pro-caliber QB in 2020.
Lance doesn’t have as far to go in terms of developing as a passer, but just look at the situation Allen was in. The Bills fully committed to him and let him grow, rather than moving off him after a couple years and drafting a replacement.
The same sort of situation needs to be set up for Lance. He’s turning 21 next month and still has such a high ceiling. There’s little reason for his new team to abandon him if he’s pressed into duty and struggles early. As he gains experience, it’s likely Lance will be able to take huge leaps forward as a quarterback.
One way Lance’s journey figures to parallel Allen’s, too, is the fact that he won’t be the first QB off the board in his draft class. Or the second. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are expected to go ahead of Lance at the very least. He may be like Allen and be the third drafted, or he may wait to be the fifth one chosen.
As we saw in 2018, that’s not the worst thing that could happen. The further you slide in the draft, the more likely you are to go to a better team. Buffalo traded up twice to acquire Allen, so his situation was unique in that regard. But the Baltimore Ravens drafted eventual MVP Lamar Jackson 32nd overall. He was the fifth quarterback chosen that night.
So, if Lance is the third or fifth player at his position to go off the board, that doesn’t at all mean he’ll have the third- or fifth-best career. Fans of the team that drafts Lance shouldn’t view his selection as “settling” at the position.
Given his youth, physical tools and schematic background, Lance may actually be a much better NFL player than most realize. All it takes is one team to believe in him similar to the way the Bills believed in Allen, and the makings of the league’s next superstar could be in place.