Coming off a rollercoaster junior season, where will the former Ohio State football player be picked in next month’s NFL Draft?
Coming into the 2020 season, it looked like Justin Fields was a shoo-in to go top 2 in the 2021 NFL draft. The Georgia native had superior arm strength and good touch on his passes, while also being able to use his legs outside the pocket.
But after some uneven performances vs Indiana and Northwestern (2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) mixed in with some brilliant ones, namely, against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semi-final (385 yards passing, 6 touchdowns, and 1 interception), his draft stock has become much murkier. I’ll dive into some potential landing spots and the likelihood of him landing there. The likelihood scale will be between 1-10, with 1 being highly unlikely and 10 being the highest confidence.
New York Jets (Likelihood scale, 3)
The New York Jets hold the highest pick of anyone on this list at no. 2 overall. The Jets have an incumbent starter in Sam Darnold, who many argue was never granted a fair chance with Adam Gase as head coach and could make large strides under new head coach Robert Saleh.
Also factoring into the Jets’ decision is there has been plenty of talk that the Jets actually favor BYU quarterback Zach Wilson over Fields. The Jets have also been rumored to take massive Oregon tackle Penei Sewell at No. 2 or perhaps trading back in the draft.
Plenty of rumors are also floating around that they could give up this pick and much more to acquire Deshaun Watson. Either way, I wouldn’t expect Fields to land in New York, but much crazier things have happened. Now if this pick gets dealt to Houston for Watson, I can definitely see the Texans taking Watson here, but that remains to be seen.
Atlanta Falcons (Likelihood scale, 7)
Atlanta. Justin Fields, suburban Atlanta native. Seems like a match in heaven right? The Falcons hold the fourth pick in the Draft and could opt to draft a young quarterback to potentially sit behind veteran Matt Ryan for a year.
Sitting for a year behind a former-MVP in Ryan could end up being perfect for Fields, who has an issue with locking into receivers too early, and some technical issues as well. I think Atlanta will go quarterback with this pick, despite some gaping holes on defense, but the question here is who will that quarterback be?
The Falcons reportedly have interest in North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, a developmental-type quarterback who needs probably a year or so on the bench. My gut tells me that Lance will be the pick here, but I am far from sold on it.
Philadelphia Eagles (Likelihood scale, 5)
There’s no way the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts last year in the second round just to replace him with Fields, right? Not so fast. After trading Carson Wentz to the Colts, most people think Howie Roseman was handing over the keys to the Eagles offense to Jalen Hurts, who had bright spots in four starts for Philadelphia last year.
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But some sources believe that the Eagles will take Justin Fields to be their long-term starter at pick No. 6. Now the Eagles do have other needs, namely a putrid receiver corps, and could opt to take whichever receiver the Dolphins do not take at 3 out of Ja’marr Chase and Devonta Smith.
Roseman, the Eagles GM who is known for doing things outside the norm, could very well choose to pull the trigger on Fields, and although right now I am not expecting him to land in Philadelphia, I am on the fence.
Carolina Panthers (Likelihood scale, 4)
The Panthers could very well decide to move on from Teddy Bridgewater this offseason, and his name has been floated out in possible packages to get Deshaun Watson along with the No. 8 pick which they have this year plus more draft capital.
If the Panthers keep the pick, they could very much be in play for Fields. The issue with this, is the Panthers pick eight and I would think with the way the NFL Draft works, once one quarterback goes off the board teams rush to trade up and pick quarterbacks in a hurry.
I personally do not think Justin Fields lasts until pick 8. The Panthers would have to trade up to get Fields in my opinion, and I don’t know if that is something they will do. The Panthers have also been linked to Trey Lance, and I think Lance could fall to this spot at 8. I don’t think Fields ends up to the Panthers at 8, but I do think that his odds are boosted if the Panthers decide to move up.