ATHENS — The 2021 NFL Draft is four weeks away and speculation is growing over what teams are prioritizing and what trades may occur to make things happen.
Coaches and general managers certainly don’t want to show their hands, but player workouts can be telling particularly at the quarterback position where everyone is eager to see things mapped out.
One of the more eye-opening trends in the NFL mock drafts has been seeing former Georgia and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields projected outside of the Top 10.
The 6-foot-3, 228-pound Fields ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the Ohio State Pro Day on Tuesday and worked out in front of representatives from 31 of 32 NFL teams (the L.A. Rams were not there, per the ESPN report).
And yet, ESPN analyst Todd McShay has Fields going No. 11 overall — and fifth among quarterbacks — to the New England Patriots in his most recent mock draft and ESPN paysite article.
Some suggested when San Francisco traded up for Miami’s No. 3 spot in the first round — giving up the No. 12 overall pick in the 2021 draft, first-and-third round picks in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023 — that it was to draft Fields.
And it still might be.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan had early access to Fields at the QB collective camp, so he at lease has some familiarity with the makeup of the Buckeyes’ departing star.
The rub on Fields, per reports and NFL analysts, involves questions about his abilities to get through his progressions. In Fields’ defense, he often didn’t need to get past his primary target at Ohio State with the Buckeyes have an elite receiver group and solid offensive line.
But there were some moments that cast doubt, such as Fields’ 12-of-27, 114-yard passing performance against Northwestern that included two interceptions.
Fields was also only moderately successful against an Alabama defense that had been shredded by Florida quarterback Kyle Trask.
Trask was 26-of-40 passing for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions in the Gators’ 52-46 loss in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama.
Fields, in the College Football Playoff Championship Game, was 17-of-33 passing for 194 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also had 6 carries for 67 yards, however, showing off the extra dimension he will bring whatever NFL team drafts him.
McShay’s most recent mock draft projects seven quarterbacks being selected in the first two rounds:
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (Jacksonville)
2. Zach Wilson, BYU (New York Jets)
3. Mac Jones, Alabama (San Francisco)
7. Trey Lance, North Dakota State (Carolina)
11. Justin Fields, Ohio State (New England)
51. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (Washington)
52. Kyle Trask, Florida (Chicago)