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Justin Fields Falling To 32 Really Isn't That Crazy

Chris Simms posted his mock draft and immediately got ratioed. Quote tweets, LOLs, crying face emojis all up in his mentions. I genuinely don't see the point in mock drafts outside of entertainment value. They're never right. They're not even intended to be right. You've got some people working under the premise that these are the top 32 players, others drafting for specific team needs, and others pretending they're the GM of all 32 teams and saying what they would do if given the chance to wear all those hats. Like I said, it's entertainment, I'll click on literally every single mock draft the internet will feed me, but it's not science. 

All that being said, this year has almost insured someone gets their feelings hurt come Thursday night. Every year at least one "top" prospect falls, sometimes completely out of the first round. And the ESPN cameras cut to them after every pick, Mel Kiper has to explain why that player keeps falling, and now that player has all these red flags they didn't have before the night started. It's really fucking stupid when you stop to think about it. For months now, I want to say it started with Schefter, all we've heard is that the top five quarterbacks wont just be selected in the first round. No no. They're all locked in to be top 10 picks. Which is both wildly reckless and also somewhat understandable? Allow me to explain.

How I somewhat understand that line of thinking: I genuinely like the top five guys, which appears to be the general sentiment around the NFL. Trevor Lawrence - you know, duh. If you think Lawrence is going to stink, you can take your victory lap and be alone in doing so. I don't pretend to be an expert, I haven't heard a single negative thing about him since he was in high school. If he busts, fucking no one in the world sees that coming. Zach Wilson feels like a beneficiary of the top quarterbacks in the League right now. He's toolsy, he's electric, he makes absurd throws on the run. I don't know how much you can make of the schedule he played when it's not like we're doing the same for Mac Jones. Beating Alabama didn't do wonders for Deshaun Watson's draft stock. Patrick Mahomes played at Texas Tech, clearly it doesn't matter all that much if you can actually play. And then there's Justin Fields and Trey Lance. Justin Fields has always been good at football. Every level, every year. Trey Lance played at a small school, is viewed as a runner with an inaccurate arm, and is the "raw, upside" guy of the group. Which, after watching him play for any amount of time, you can certainly sell yourself on him putting it all together and being one of the better guys from this class.

So if you truly believe there are five (5) quarterbacks worthy of becoming starters at the next level, I can understand where you'd draw the conclusion that they would be hot commodities come Thursday night.

The problem with that line of thinking is that it completely ignores the entire history of the NFL Draft. For starters, a lot of teams fucking stink at drafting players. Not just quarterbacks, players of any position. Joey Mulinaro just wrote a blog begging his beloved Steelers not to draft a cornerback in the first round because of how historically bad they are at drafting corners. Every Patriots fan reading this has no faith in our ability to draft a competent wide receiver. Teams have blind spots, and a lot of teams have blind spots when it comes to drafting quarterbacks and implementing plans to help those quarterbacks succeed. 

Which, if you think about it, do you believe most teams really *like* all five of these guys? Certainly not. Public perception vs. front office lines of thinking are almost never lined up. They probably shouldn't be. If the public can do their job better, they shouldn't be employed. But if you're a team like the Denver Broncos sitting at nine, unsure if Drew Lock is the right guy to lead this team, are you just going to take a quarterback because one is available at nine if you really don't like him? You want to lose your job betting on someone you don't think is any good? People have read into their relentless pursuit of quarterbacks this offseason as a surefire sign they're taking anyone with an arm once they're on the clock. I see it the other way. The fact that they've been so desperately attempting to acquire anyone and everyone means they don't really fuck with anyone outside of the top two or three guys. People thought the Panthers were the ideal Mac Jones landing spot until the 49ers traded up to number three. Then Carolina went out and traded a second round pick PLUS more shit for the rights to Sam Darnold. The Lions traded away their quarterback for another starting quarterback. The Eagles traded out of six when they haven't even named Jalen Hurts QB1 yet. These are not the actions of teams itching to use premium draft capital on QB4. 

Going all the way back to 1983, John Elway was the lock of all locks. So much so he got to decide where he wanted to play. Five other quarterbacks were taken in that first round. The second best quarterback from that class was taken sixth behind: the proven winner in Todd Blackledge, the little guy who runs around and makes shit happen at a school no one cares about in Tony Eason, the guy who was third best but literally chose to play in a different league than sign with Buffalo in Jim Kelly, and the small school guy no one ever saw play who actually wasn't terrible but still wasn't Dan Marino in Ken O'Brien. Marino fell because his senior year was worse than his junior year and a lot of teams were terrified that he was addicted to cocaine. Marino played his entire career in Miami and still looks great to this day, clearly cocaine was never an issue. It's hard to compare the quarterback landscape of 2021 with that of 1983, but it's a good reminder that teams have been really dumb for a really long time and fuck this shit up routinely.

So, let's go all the way back to *checks notes* 2018. Five quarterbacks selected in the first round. Baker Mayfield went first, seems to be a solid choice thus far. Darnold went third and this is why I talk about teams not having a plan. The Jets traded up to three, took a guy, now he's still on his first contract on a different team in a different conference. He hasn't been good, maybe he'll be ok in Carolina, who's to say. Josh Allen went seventh, a lot of people thought he should've went higher, a lot of people thought he was terrible. He was the toolsy, inaccurate guy from a small school who looked good in shorts. He's had a bad year, a better year, and a borderline MVP year. Credit to him and the Bills for his own personal development and the organization's trust in him and their own vision. Next was Josh Rosen at 10 who I think sells insurance now? I don't know. Did Rosen win a ring last year with Tampa Bay? Is that where he was/is/will be? How did this happen? So quickly, at that. Josh Rosen played for a horrible Cardinals team and then vanished off the face of the Earth never to be heard nor seen again. That pick did not, I repeat, NOT work out. 

32nd overall, the Heisman winner, the only quarterback to win MVP out of this group of five, Lamar Jackson went to the Ravens. AFTER the Ravens already drafted a tight end whom they no longer employ. The Ravens had to trade back into the first round just in case Lamar turned out to be good so they could have that fifth year security blanket. Lamar has been the best quarterback of this class by a healthy margin, whether or not that stays true moving forward is a separate conversation. But again, there was plenty of people screaming pre-draft for him to be one of the first QBs off the board. Instead he was getting asked at the combine about playing wide receiver at the next level. 

Lamar Jackson going 32nd doesn't have much to do with Justin Fields going 32nd in Chris Simms' Mock Draft 20.0 two days out from the first round. But it is a gentle reminder that just because you see things one way doesn't mean the NFL sees it in a remotely similar fashion at all. I understand Lawrence being a lock first overall selection, but I don't understand how Wilson-Fields hasn't been a debate at all during this entire process. Like, not even for a second has that been discussed as a possibility. The 49ers traded up to third so long ago we just glazed over the Jets as if they're not perfectly capable of throwing a wrench into this plan and having the wheels come off quick fast 54 hours from now. 

But my point remains: if Fields, or Lance, or whomever, starts falling - no matter how good you believe that prospect to be - you shouldn't be all that surprised. Historically speaking, that's the norm. Five quarterbacks going in the top 10 would be the crazy thing to happen.