The No. 3 QB? Mel Kiper Jr. explains why Ohio State's Justin Fields is his third quarterback off the board
The big question heading into the 2021 NFL Draft was supposed to involve star quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Which guy would get selected No. 1 overall?
For ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., that answer is now all-too-easy. There’s really no competition for the No. 1 pick, it’s Lawrence, who had another outstanding year at Clemson in 2020. But that’s not the surprising part of the draft analyst’s most recent mock projections.
Listed at No. 7 overall — and the third quarterback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft — is Fields. That’s quite a fall for a player who was once penciled in as either the first or second selection on Day 1. Instead, coming in at that No. 2 spot and going No. 4 overall is BYU’s Zach Wilson.
Why? Kiper provided an explanation in a recent stop at ESPN’s Get Up!.
“It depends who you talk to in the NFL,” Kiper said. “I’ve changed that six times when I was doing this with Fields and Wilson flip flopping. Wilson had such a great year. I had one guy who said Fields, but also said Wilson was spectacular all year. Fields had some hiccups, the Indiana game and the Northwestern game in particular. I know the Northwestern game didn’t have Chris Olave, but still, Wilson didn’t have that hiccup. Against Coastal Carolina, he was good … he didn’t have that subpar game.”
Despite some tough outings against Indiana and Northwestern, Fields still threw for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns while completing 70.2% of his passes and rushing for an additional 383 yards and 5 scores. The only area he saw a decline was in his interception total from last season, throwing 6 picks this year compared to just 3 in 2019.
Is that enough to warrant such a slip in draft status?
With pro days still awaiting, Fields has another opportunity to improve scouts and improve his stock ahead of Draft Day. Right now, though, it looks like the Ohio State QB could be near the bottom of the Top 10 in the first round, at least per Kiper.
You can see Kiper’s projections for B1G 1st-rounders here.