Trey Lance tied for second-best odds to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Trey Lance's odds of winning the NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award skyrocketed after being chosen third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
The former North Dakota State star is currently tied with Ohio State signal caller Justin Fields — now a member of the Chicago Bears — for the second-best odds (+600) to win the honor.
Only Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence has better odds (+300) to collect Rookie of the Year as quarterback of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Offensive Rookie of the Year 2021/2022
Sun, February 6 2022, 11:00 PM
Lance could see game action quickly in San Francisco
Soon after Lance was drafted by San Francisco, head coach Kyle Shanahan jumped at the opportunity to ensure quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will remain No. 1 on the depth chart.
In an interview on The Rich Eisen Show, Shanahan insisted Garoppolo was the starter and commended his solid grasp of Shanahan’s complex offense, with a playbook that might be a bit complicated for a first-year player to master.
Shanahan went on to say that he expected Lance to spend his first season in the NFL learning the offense and his teammates.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I'll never play a rookie quarterback," he also added. "And I'm not going to say I will play him. That's kind of up to him."
Kyle Shanahan on the Rich Eisen show mentioned Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson - once they were gone, said #49ers knew they had to get up in the draft to ensure they got a quarterback.— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) May 4, 2021
Mentioned he felt very good about Mac Jones and Trey Lance. Justin Fields was not named: pic.twitter.com/bJAAPTAOb8
Shanahan may sincerely plan to start Garoppolo in Week 1, or this may be another smokescreen, like the one he created before the draft that had most everyone speculating the Niners would scoop up Alabama quarterback Mac Jones instead of Lance.
Regardless of Shanahan's actual intentions, the Niners could have no choice but to play Lance, if Garoppolo's injury issues continue.
The 29-year-old has missed 23 games across his last three seasons in San Francisco.
In Week 3 of the 2018 season, he suffered a season-ending ACL injury. He returned to start all 16 games in 2019 and led the Niners to a Super Bowl, but in 2020, a high ankle sprain sidelined Garoppolo for a total of 10 games.
How NFL-ready is Lance?
Should Garoppolo get injured again, or lose his starting spot to Lance in the offseason, the Niners will be at the mercy of a 21-year-old quarterback who played just one full season of college football at the FCS level.
While at North Dakota State — the alma mater of new Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz — Lance redshirted for the 2018 season, while Easton Stick was the starter.
In 2019, Lance guided the Bison to the school's eighth FCS title in nine years. He finished the season with 287 pass attempts, 28 touchdown passes, and no interceptions, which set an NCAA record for most attempted passes in a season without throwing an interception.
He also rushed for 1,100 yards and 14 scores.
The following year, Lance opted out of the 2020 season, which was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Lance is called upon to start this season, he will see his first game action since an exhibition matchup with Central Arkansas in October 2020. More concerning, he recorded only 318 pass attempts during his entire college career.
Best bets for Offensive ROY
If Lance sees playing time during the 2021 NFL season, it's a bit unrealistic to think he will hit the ground running in Shanahan's offense.
Lawrence is the most likely candidate to win Rookie of the Year, for good reason. He is the presumed Week 1 starter in Jacksonville, and if he is, in fact, the generational talent some experts labeled him throughout his college career, then we should expect swift results at the NFL level.
Fields is another intriguing OROY prospect, as he could beat out Andy Dalton and Nick Foles for the starting job in Chicago.
However, head coach Matt Nagy does not boast a great track record with developing young quarterbacks, as witnessed with former Bears No. 2 overall draft pick Mitch Trubisky.
While it's tempting to first look at the quarterbacks capable of winning Rookie of the Year, a few other skill position players are worth backing.
Tight end Kyle Pitts (+1100), the second-highest-graded prospect in the 2021 NFL draft class, will work with quarterback Matt Ryan in Atlanta.
Pitts possesses the kind of talent that could see him shatter rookie tight end records and become the first player at his position to win the Associated Press' Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Another player in a prime spot to make an immediate impact is Alabama running back Najee Harris (+1000).
The 2020 college football rushing touchdowns leader is expected to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers' backfield, which desperately needed help last season.
Four of the past eight Offensive ROY awards went to a running back, and three of those running backs hailed from the SEC, like Harris.
Quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert won ROY in 2019 and 2020, respectively, so if the award goes to a non-quarterback this year, look for Harris to be on the receiving end.