Justin Fields has been criticized and critiqued quite a bit since the end of the college football season. A player who was once perceived as one of the two best quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class has been nit-picked over the last few months.

Some still believe the former Ohio State star is the second-best quarterback in the draft, behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Others think Fields has dropped outside a Top 10 selection and could be the third- or fourth-best passer in the class.

The biggest criticism of Fields has come from less-than-stellar performances in a regular season win over Indiana and the B1G Championship Game victory over Northwestern. Those have been the two greatest knocks against the ex-Buckeye, giving little credit to stellar defenses the Hoosiers and Wildcats had in 2020.

In a recent edition of the SDS Podcast, Connor O’Gara asked Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) Mike Renner if the narrative would be different if Fields stayed at Georgia instead of transferring to Ohio State. His answer was an interesting one.

“I think people would feel a lot more comfortable drafting him. Like, he would not be getting the same concerns,” said Renner. “You play poorly against an SEC defense [like Alabama]…you can excuse that away. I do think it would be a vastly different conversation, but just go back and look at some of the quarterbacks who went No. 1 overall. Jared Goff? You really think Jared Goff is a better prospect from what he did at Cal than Justin Fields? …So, it really does blow my mind that the conversation has gotten to this point.”

Because the SEC is considered to have the better defenses and superior talent, there probably wouldn’t be so much criticism for Fields. He might even still be challenging Lawrence as the top overall selection.

Fields was 20-2 as a starter at Ohio State with the only losses coming in the College Football Playoff. He was a two-time B1G Offensive Player of the Year and a Heisman finalist following the 2019 season.

None of that has seemed to matter since the college football season concluded in January.