NFL draft season is some of the most exciting theater the sport of football has to offer. Mostly because it is so unpredictable. No matter how much studying fans and media do in regards to prospects and team needs, there never fails to be some genuinely shocking moments each year. By far one of the biggest of 2021 was seeing Justin Fields, a star quarterback out of Ohio State, fall out of the top 10. Allowing the Chicago Bears to snag him 11th overall in a trade with the Giants.
This after many felt Fields was the #2 QB prospect in the country only behind Trevor Lawrence of Clemson. Then the draft season happened. Teams began finding things to nitpick in Fields’ game, saw other young options like Zach Wilson and Trey Lance emerge at the same time, and talked themselves into believing they would ultimately end up the superior options. Fast forward a few months? It seems those teams might be realizing they made a fatal mistake.
Just ask Albert Breer.
The insider for the MMQB appeared on the Zolak & Bertrand show which covers Boston-area sports including the New England Patriots. Their own rookie QB Mac Jones is coming off the best performance of his young career, throwing three TD passes against Cleveland. Breer has heard the chatter and decided to reach out to several NFL scouts and what would happen if teams had a chance to redraft the 2021 QB class. His answer was telling.
"I've heard from enough scouts where it was like, 'the first QB would still be Lawrence, the second would be between Fields and Jones now'."
— NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Coverage (@NBCSPatriots) November 17, 2021
In other words, what probably should’ve happened the first time does happen the second time. Fields is the second quarterback off the board. It’s amazing to think the New York Jets might already be having second thoughts about Zach Wilson but his play to this point is difficult to explain away. He has completed less than 60% of his passes with just four touchdowns to nine interceptions. Then there is Trey Lance who went 3rd overall to San Francisco. After he looks poised to steal the starting job in training camp, he has reportedly regressed since then and isn’t considered a threat to Jimmy Garoppolo anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Justin Fields continues to ascend
The Bears rookie has played his two best games yet the past two times he stepped on the field. He ran for 103 yards and an electric touchdown against those same 49ers in Chicago. Then in front of a national audience in Pittsburgh, he put on a show in the 2nd half. This included 228 yards passing and a go-ahead touchdown drive with under two minutes to play. If not for some ill-timed penalties and a defensive collapse, the buzz on him would be even greater.
The fact Justin Fields is doing this while in a much-maligned offensive system behind a questionable offensive line? It only enhances the excitement around him. If he’s improving this fast already. Just imagine what might happen if the team can get a better scheme and better protection around him. The sky might truly be the limit. All the while other organizations look upon Chicago with envy.
It is so strange to be in this position. For many years it seemed like the Bears were always the team that made the wrong decision at QB in the draft. Then they had to watch others teams that got it right have success. Look no further than 2017 with Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes. To think they might’ve recovered from that to turn the tables in their favor? It could make for a tremendous story if Fields ends up realizing his full potential.