COLUMBUS — For all the speculation, nobody has the answer for where Justin Fields will land.
The former Ohio State quarterback has been heavily scrutinized as the clock ticks closer and closer to the NFL Draft on April 29. Fields has recently been called out for ludicrous takes such as not caring about football, his accuracy throwing the ball and decision-making under pressure.
The result has been Fields sliding down mock draft boards. Last week ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projected Fields would be the fifth quarterback — behind Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones and Trey Lance — taken off the board in the first round, going to the New England Patriots at No. 10 overall via a trade with the Dallas Cowboys.
Kiper has openly admitted before how much he respects the Ohio State quarterback; he has him ranked as the second-best quarterback in this year’s draft. But speaking on a conference call on Thursday afternoon, the draft guru admitted the landing spot for Fields is far from certain.
â€œThatâ€™s the million-dollar question,” Kiper said. “I love Justin Fields; I think heâ€™s the second-best quarterback in this draft. I can see him going to Denver at nine. I can see somebody trading up to 10 to get him or trading up to seven, ahead of Denver, force Denver to go from nine to seven with Detroit to get him.
“People say he’s falling, I think he’s going to be red hot.”
In his first mock draft back in January, the draft guru had Fields going No. 7 overall to the Detroit Lions. Since then, the NFL Draft order and landscape has shifted. The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams traded quarterbacks, while the San Francisco 49ers moved up to the No. 3 spot, trading their No. 12 overall pick and three future picks to the Miami Dolphins.
All of those moves have directly impacted Fields and his eventual landing spot. When the 49ers moves up to No. 3, analysts thought they were moving up for Fields. Now it’s expected San Francisco will take Jones with the pick. Trying to still impress NFL scouts and coaches, Fields hosted a second Pro Day at Ohio State on Wednesday, throwing in front of representatives from the Jets, 49ers, Lions, Falcons, Panthers, Broncos and Patriots.
“I think he’s going to be the fifth quarterback taken, so what,” Kiper said. “The quarterbacks that have dropped over the years have done pretty well. If it’s New England, if it’s Denver, if it’s Washington, Chicago — whoever it is, that depends on far those teams want to drop. Detroit, how far are you OK dropping to? Or even a Dallas at 10. I think there’s going to be activity to go up and get Justin Fields.”
The career Fields had at Ohio State speaks for itself. A Heisman Trophy finalist, he was 20-2 during his two years in Columbus and led the Buckeyes to a berth in the national championship game last season. Along with his list of awards, he a masterful performance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
Where and when he goes later this month is unknown. But Mel Kiper Jr. certainly still believes teams should be lining up for a chance to draft the Buckeyes product.