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Justin Fields mocked to the Falcons: Beat writers analyze the fit (The Athletic)


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On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released his NFL Mock Draft 2.0.With the fourth pick in the draft, he had the Falcons drafting Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

To analyze the pick, Ohio State beat reporter Bill Landis and Falcons beat reporter Tori McElhaney teamed up to take a look at Fields’s success with Ohio State and a potential future with the Falcons and why Fields could be the spark that starts a rebuild in Atlanta.

• NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Gregory Rousseau mocked to the Falcons

What was Fields for Ohio State? 

Maybe the best quarterback the program has ever had. From a raw talent standpoint, I’m not sure the Buckeyes have ever had a player at this position with Fields’ athleticism, speed throwing ability, playmaking capability and smarts all in one package. There have been a bunch of talented quarterbacks in Columbus, all with some kind of special trait. Troy Smith won a Heisman Trophy, and others have finished high in the voting, but Fields seemed to encompass the best qualities of all of Ohio State’s great quarterbacks while showing few flaws.

Beyond his undeniable talent, Fields showed tremendous growth as a leader over his two years in Columbus. He embraced being a leading voice in the sport, advocating for the Big Ten to play a season in 2020. He went from shy and reserved when he first transferred from Georgia to the face of the team, as one does when he’s the starting quarterback, but Fields never seemed uncomfortable carrying that burden.

That unflappability likewise often showed up on the field, where Fields’ greatest strength for the majority of his career was his calmness under pressure and confidence in the pocket. Now, that dipped some in games against Indiana and Northwestern but also shined brightest in a Sugar Bowl win against Clemson.

Fields will get dinged some for being a quarterback who locks too much on his first read, but he also has had moments when he has shown himself capable of shaking that habit. He can make any throw. His legs can be a real weapon, his escapability is elite, and his ability to make plays on the move is as good as anyone you’ll see in college football. — Bill Landis

 
 
team-logo-191-300x300.png
 
OSU - QB
Justin
 
Fields
2020 STATS
COMP
119
71st
ATT
164
83rd
YDS
1521
64th
TDS
15
38th
INTS
5
16th
YDS/G
253.5
17th
2019 STATS
COMP
208
55th
ATT
308
64th
YDS
2953
26th
TDS
40
3rd
INTS
1
1st
YDS/G
227.2
57th

What could Fields be for the Falcons? 

If the Falcons draft Fields, it would be the beginning of a new chapter in Atlanta. As Matt Ryan’s contract currently stands, it’s complicated to work around, but by drafting Fields, the Falcons would give a new general manager time in a year or two to work it out. All the while Fields waits in the wings, perhaps getting a few games under his belt here and there, but as Ryan’s years in Atlanta come to a close, the Falcons have his successor ready to go.

Even with the challenges the salary cap presents, it seems like the right plan to draft a quarterback now, especially with the fourth pick and someone like Fields on the table. The Falcons can’t gamble that opportunity away just because they have Ryan. The organization is going to have to start thinking about the day when it doesn’t have Ryan and Julio Jones. If the Falcons draft Fields, it shows this new regime is thinking and planning for that day to come.

While all of that is worked out, Fields will have to be a little patient waiting for his day to come. Fields won’t be the starter for the Falcons from start to finish in 2021 and maybe even 2022, depending on what those in charge want to do with Ryan. Fields will be the future of the Falcons if they choose to draft him. So, if he can wait a year, maybe two, to have that starting spot, Atlanta is a pretty good place for him.

Once Fields got to Atlanta, he would have a core nucleus of offensive tools around him. Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary were first-round picks on the offensive line. Fields may not get much time with Julio Jones, depending on how Jones’ situation plays out, but Calvin Ridley has slid right in as Jones’ successor in Atlanta. Ridley isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The Falcons need to figure out the running back situation, but perhaps something could work out in this year’s draft with so many young running backs on the table in 2021.

It also would be great for Fields to return to his home state. His hometown of Kennesaw would be overjoyed to have him back so close. And there’s just something poetic about Fields back in Georgia … in red and black … as the potential starting quarterback … for the Falcons.

All of that aside, at the end of the day by drafting Fields the Falcons show they’re ready to usher in the next generation and a new era. Fields is someone you build around, and he would give the Falcons a spark. — Tori McElhaney

https://theathletic.com/2318165/2021/01/12/justin-fields-nfl-mock-draft-atlanta-falcons/

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30 minutes ago, celtiksage said:

I'm the same about Wilson.

 

7 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

What would you say are Wilson’s biggest weaknesses that will prove tough to overcome?

Wondering the same. My main concern with Wilson is that I worry he's going to break in the pros if he keeps playing like he does with the ball in his hands, but I think that sliding, getting out of bounds, and throwing the ball away are relatively easy to teach yourself. 

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Just now, Lornoth said:

 

Wondering the same. My main concern with Wilson is that I worry he's going to break in the pros if he keeps playing like he does with the ball in his hands, but I think that sliding, getting out of bounds, and throwing the ball away are relatively easy to teach yourself. 

That’s my biggest fear about Wilson. I just don’t think he comes back on the field like Fields did if he had taken that hit in the playoff game against Clemson. Say what you will about Fields’ strengths and weaknesses but he came back from a grown man NFL hit. Gotta respect that toughness. 

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5 minutes ago, Lornoth said:

 

Wondering the same. My main concern with Wilson is that I worry he's going to break in the pros if he keeps playing like he does with the ball in his hands, but I think that sliding, getting out of bounds, and throwing the ball away are relatively easy to teach yourself. 

Yeah, his athletic profile isn’t good enough to play that way on Sundays.

But in terms of NFL traits: most young quarterbacks bust because of low IQ or accuracy issues.  Wilson grades off the charts in both areas. That’s why there is such a little bust potential when it comes to him.

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6 minutes ago, marvinthemartian said:

That’s my biggest fear about Wilson. I just don’t think he comes back on the field like Fields did if he had taken that hit in the playoff game against Clemson. Say what you will about Fields’ strengths and weaknesses but he came back from a grown man NFL hit. Gotta respect that toughness. 

It’s a valid concern

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2 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

Yeah, his athletic profile isn’t good enough to play that way on Sundays.

But in terms of NFL traits: most young quarterbacks bust because of low IQ or accuracy issues.  Wilson grades off the charts in both areas. That’s why there is such a little bust potential when it comes to him.

 

1 minute ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

It’s a valid concern

Wilson's my favourite QB this draft, but he reminds me of RG3 in a lot of ways: good and bad. Would hate to see our franchise QB get Weatherspooned like RG3 did. 

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It’s not like we’re talking about getting our fingernails pulled out. He’s a quarterback. And in my opinion we need one badly for the future. And I get that Ryan is the starter because his contract is too big to not start him, same reason we started Gurley. But maybe, just maybe in the 4th quarter and a first down seals the game, just maybe throw him a bone and let him win one. We’re not better than we were last year.  It’s a chance to do better. We can be better. 

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39 minutes ago, marvinthemartian said:

That’s my biggest fear about Wilson. I just don’t think he comes back on the field like Fields did if he had taken that hit in the playoff game against Clemson. Say what you will about Fields’ strengths and weaknesses but he came back from a grown man NFL hit. Gotta respect that toughness. 

I will say this though. I don’t think it was wise of Fields to take that hit. I’m willing to bet a Kyler or Lamar avoid that hit if they can as well. He’s tough for sure, but has to take care of his body better. 

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1 hour ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

What would you say are Wilson’s biggest weaknesses that will prove tough to overcome?

I think his skillset is fine. My hesitancy with him is that I've read he's a typical "spoiled rich kid." I think he's going to be a head case and problem in the locker room. 

If not, he could be phenomenal. 

In all the film I've seen of him, he looks flawless, but his competition looks like he's playing against high schoolers. I'm not sure he's going to do well if he doesn't have immediate success or if the level of competition is equal to or greater than his skill set. If he can handle the pressure, and not go and pull a Ryan Leaf on the NFL, he could be great. It's a bigger risk than I want to take.

 

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3 hours ago, marvinthemartian said:

That’s my biggest fear about Wilson. I just don’t think he comes back on the field like Fields did if he had taken that hit in the playoff game against Clemson. Say what you will about Fields’ strengths and weaknesses but he came back from a grown man NFL hit. Gotta respect that toughness. 

good thing the guy that hit him didn't call him an ugly name, that would have sent him running away and crying....

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4 hours ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

What would you say are Wilson’s biggest weaknesses that will prove tough to overcome?

Playing in the NFL against better athletes better coaching and having less time and smaller windows to throw into.

That about covers it for me.

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4 hours ago, marvinthemartian said:

That’s my biggest fear about Wilson. I just don’t think he comes back on the field like Fields did if he had taken that hit in the playoff game against Clemson. Say what you will about Fields’ strengths and weaknesses but he came back from a grown man NFL hit. Gotta respect that toughness. 

Imagine if Zach was getting hit like Ryan’s been hit the last couple of years you think he’s overcoming that.

Everyone think Fields taking that shot during the Clemson game was something I’m telling you now if these kids were taking shots like Ryan’s been taking the last 3 seasons there out of there.

And before anyone goes on about mobility there’s only a few QBs in this league that run away from NFL defenders I don’t see that in any of these guys coming out.

Lamar Jackson is thee guy who I’ve seen actually run away from NFL defenders.

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