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Justin Fields entered the 2020 season as the no-brainer second-best quarterback prospect behind Trevor Lawrence, and had another excellent year leading Ohio State to the national championship game.
But in the weeks and months leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, he has curiously started to slide down boards, even after a fantastic pro day performance. Zach Wilson has eclipsed him as the QB2, and even Mac Jones and Trey Lance have picked up steam as potentially being drafted over him. The 49ers traded up to No. 3, but sent head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch to Jones’ pro day instead of Fields’.
On “The Pat McAfee Show,” ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky shared information he had gathered from NFL sources as to why this may be happening.
“One, I have heard that he is a last-guy-in, first-guy-out type of quarterback,” Orlovsky said. “Like, not the maniacal work ethic. I’ve even heard it compared to Justin Herbert, where it was like, dude, when Justin Herbert showed up, he was like a psychopath when it came to working and get ready for the draft. Or even at school, like, ‘Give me more, I want to work non-stop.’ And I’ve heard that there are issues with Justin Fields’ work ethic.
“The second thing is … Where is his desire to go be a great quarterback? I think that there’s a desire to be a big-time athlete, from what is expressed to me, but where is his desire to be a great quarterback? And to be great, you gotta be willing to find the things that you are not good at and just freaking grind on them.”
The quotes were circulated on social media, and Orlovsky received some backlash, despite the fact that the former NFL quarterback stated multiple times that these were not his opinions. Many pointed out that Fields played half of the CFP semifinal with a gnarly rib injury and threw six touchdowns, blowing out Lawrence and Clemson in the process. Hard to argue that the work ethic isn’t there considering what everyone saw on the biggest stage in college football.
There’s also the possibility that NFL front offices are deliberately putting out smokescreens, which often happens during draft season as teams try to manipulate the dialogue around certain players. Perhaps one team loves Fields and wants him to slide a bit in the draft so they can snag him.
Orlovsky said his main concern about Fields is his throwing motion, which he described as “unnatural.” On ESPN, he dispelled other popular concerns about Fields, including the idea that he struggles going through his reads.
“If Justin Fields falls past fourth in the draft, we as an NFL community have failed,” Orlovsky said. “If you hear someone say that Justin Fields can’t get through number one in his progression, stop listening to that person and walk away.”
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