Is Trey Lance fairly listed by CBS Sports among NFC quarterbacks?

Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

No, the 49ers’ Trey Lance isn’t listed among the top quarterbacks in the NFC entering 2022, according to CBS Sports. But is their ranking fair to him regardless?

It’s safe to say the AFC is vastly superior to the NFC heading into 2022, at least in terms of top-end quarterbacks.

You know the names in the conference opposite the one the San Francisco 49ers play in: the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert and now the Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson.

So, that should make it easier for NFC quarterbacks like Trey Lance to climb the list, right?

Well, maybe not.

CBS Sports ranks Trey Lance at No. 10 among NFC quarterbacks

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports recently put together his list of each projected starting quarterback in the NFC, and it’s still not too surprising who he listed at the very top:

  1. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  3. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Few would argue that ranking. After all, at least the top two names of Brady and Rodgers would contend with anyone else regardless of conference.

Although it’s still safe to say the AFC quarterbacks are much deeper.

Lance, however, came in at No. 10, and here’s Benjamin’s justification of it:

"These rankings obviously aren’t perfect; you can’t say the Commanders and Saints wouldn’t much rather have Lance as a long-term option under center. But how high can you rank a guy who’s made two career starts, and who may or may not have to emerge from Jimmy Garoppolo’s (injury-riddled) shadow yet again? All signs point to the NDSU product taking over in San Francisco, and talent-wise, he’s got all the tools — nice size, great athleticism, promising arm — to be a star for Kyle Shanahan. But he looked far more polished as a runner than a thrower in his limited rookie action, so there’s a lot of projection here."

Lance is lower than the Washington Commanders’ Carson Wentz (No. 8) but higher than Chicago Bears second-year signal-caller Justin Fields (No. 11).

And while you could probably make arguments in favor of the Niners’ future starter being ranked either higher or lower, depending on whatever criteria you like, Benjamin’s points are pretty valid.

Is Trey Lance fairly ranked by CBS Sports?

The Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, the Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray, the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts all take up the spaces between Stafford and Wentz, and aside from arguably Hurts, Lance wouldn’t shoot into that crop at all.

At least not based on the two starts from last season, as Benjamin pointed out.

Read More: CBS Sports slights 49ers offense in pre-2022 league rankings

Read More: 3 Niners who benefit most with Trey Lance under center

Yet Fields started 10 games his rookie season, but it’s not hard to see why Lance’s context is vastly superior to that of Chicago’s young quarterback, one whom many thought San Francisco could have drafted instead of Lance back in 2021.

The Bears didn’t exactly do much to surround Fields with weapons this offseason, whereas Lance gets an awfully impressive supporting cast led by tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, plus the innovative offense under Shanahan.

After those two, CBS Sports’ quarterback rankings in the NFC consist pretty much of placeholders, and no one would argue either Fields or Lance fall into that category.

Not yet, at least. And hopefully not at all.

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