The draft’s biggest wild card … With the draft set to get underway in just under 24 hours, the one guy we are still struggling to get a handle on where he fits in the big picture is Ohio State QB Justin Fields. With QBs Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson and Mac Jones apparently headed to Jacksonville, the NY Jets and San Francisco, respectively with the first three picks tomorrow night, Fields would appear to be the ‘next man up’ in the QB rankings. he appears to have all the tools including a big arm and outstanding mobility and was incredibly productive with the Buckeyes over the past two years. Of course, there are some issues with Fields including questions about his accuracy and pocket presence, but its just hard to imagine that with so many QB-needy teams out there somebody isn’t going to take a chance. Of course, Fields could be picked by home-town Atlanta with the 4th pick; however, the Falcons appear to have decided to stick with veteran Matt Ryan for another couple of years and try and rebuild the rest of the roster around him on the fly. Indeed, reports from Atlanta indicate that the Falcons’ first choice for tomorrow night is to trade down. And if the Falcons do pass on Fields, where he is ultimately picked and whether or not some team makes a move up to select could have a huge bearing on how the opening round evolves.
There have been persistent reports that New England was interested in moving up to get Fields if he started to slide, although are question has been that if Bill Belichek thought enough of Fields to trade up from the 15th pick to say the 7-8 range, then why wouldn’t he bite the bullet and move up the extra 3-4 spots to ensure getting the guy. Right on cue, there is a report in the Boston press that the Patriots have in fact talked with Atlanta about the 4th pick. No word on how far the discussion went. According to the trade value chart it should likely cost the Patriots a future #1, although the 49ers kind of set the bar when they sent two future #1s to move up roughly the same distance to get the 3rd pick overall, and Belichek may be very reluctant to part with a couple of #1s. But that is the price teams have often had to pay to get their QB of the future, although the Patriots could play a little bluff poker and figure that in fact nobody was going to take Fields with picks 4-5-6 and stick with their original plan. Time will tell!
At the same time, New England may not necessarily be the only team talking to Atlanta. There is a report in the Detroit press that the Lions inquired about moving up from the 7th pick in order to select LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase at #4, but backed off because the Falcons asking price was reportedly way too high. And there have been whispers that more than one team is at least considering the possibility of trying to move to that spot to acquire Florida TE Kyle Pitts. In the end, of course, the Falcons don’t have to make a final decision until they actually get on the clock tomorrow evening and could ultimately take the best offer they have received.
Of course, we haven’t even mentioned North Dakota State QB Trey Lance, who could quite conceivably be higher rated on some team’s boards than Fields. However, at this point in time, we just don’t get the sense that there are very many teams that would actually consider trading up to get him, although the one team lurking out there that absolutely, totally appears to want a QB upgrade is Chicago which currently sits at #20 and isn’t going to get a shot at any of the top prospects at the position at that spot. Stay tuned. We’ll find out soon enough.