Justin Fields' Special Skills Stand Out

Analysis: Ohio State's quarterback might be the only passer worth trading up to acquire in Round 1 for the Bears

When the San Francisco 49ers moved up to third in the draft and speculation built they would take Mac Jones, it created the possibility either Justin Fields or Trey Lance might drop in Round 1.

There are plenty of other teams looking for a quarterback who select between the 49ers and the Bears at No. 20 in Round 1.

So if the Bears deem either Fields or Lance a special talent, they have to be poised to go after him by giving up picks. The Atlanta Falcons are reportedly offering the fourth pick now.

Ryan Pace will have to make a decision whether to give up on acquiring players at immediate need positions later in this draft in order to gamble on a quarterback they think has special skills and may not be able to help them for a year or two while he develops.

They could simply try to swing a deal for an early draft pick but the 49ers proved how difficult this would be by paying three first-rounders and a third-rounder to move up nine spots into the third slot. Doing something like this from the 20th spot would sacrifice not only this draft but a few in the future.

It's the type of decision made all the time by teams when they look at the most important position in sports.

The Green Bay Packers shocked Aaron Rodgers and their fans last year by trading the 30th pick in Round 1 and a fourth-rounder to move up four places and select quarterback Jordan Love. They could have used someone other than Kevin King covering at cornerback in crucial situations against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay's offense.

The Kansas City Chiefs faced a situation similar to the Bears this year when they moved up 17 spots and secured the 10th pick so they could draft Patrick Mahomes. They gave up only their first-round 2017 pick, a first-rounder in 2018 and third-round pick in 2017. It was a relative steal.

Surrendering multiple picks to move up and take Lance would seem an incredible gamble. This is a player with great physical skills, but he's both entirely inexperienced and the experience he does have at quarterback in college came against low-level competition.

On the other hand, Fields could be a quarterback worth moving up to draft. He might be the only quarterback worth moving up to pick.

Fields played at a major school and faced the best competition, but did have several bad games in key matchups throughout his career. He looked totally lost through Ohio State's win over Northwestern for the Big Ten title in 2020.

Throughout three years of play he has displayed remarkable athletic ability. The 4.4-second 40 he ran at the Buckeyes' pro day is only a small part.

Fields was a high-percentage passer throughout his career, including the few passes he threw in 2018 while in the SEC at Georgia. He finished with a 67-to-9 ratio of TD passes to interceptions. He completed 68.4%, including 70.2% last year. And he didn't shy away from throwing it downfield, averaging 9.2 yards an attempt.

The big concern causing rumors of Fields dropping is the idea he doesn't read defenses well. He's a one-read quarterback.

However, Pro Football Focus analyzes film closely and in his throws since coming to Ohio State in 2019, Fields had a higher grade than Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones in making throws to targets past his first read. He was No. 1 while Wilson was second, Lance third, Lawrence seventh and Jones eighth in the country. PFF says he was third last year in the country in passer rating after the first read on his progression.

Fields looks more like a high-floor, high-ceiling type and the kind of passer a team should pursue. He definitely looks better in this regard than Lance and a case can be made he's better at it than Jones.

The fact that Fields did this after transferring, and had been good enough to be recruited by an SEC school initially only adds to his potential.

When a team needs a tackle, a receiver, a cornerback and a quarterback, but must surrender draft picks to get the quarterback, it better be a passer capable of great things.

Fields is capable of many great things, and his speed alone can make up for not being able to draft one of the better tackles if not one of the better slot receivers.

Fields wouldn't have to necessarily sit for two full years and learn the NFL, either. His athletic ability alone should buy him time as he starts and learns the pro game on the fly.

With Atlanta picking fourth, the Bears might need to trade up and surrender a ton of picks for Fields.

The Falcons might even want Fields for themselves. Then the Bears would be out of luck.

Matt Ryan will be 36 this year and there couldn't be a better situation than having him for a year while Fields gets ready. Atlanta is starting over with a new coaching staff, and it's a perfect time to make picks aimed at the future.

If this doesn't happen and Fields really falls, the Bears might need to be prepared to catch him even if it means ignoring a really drastic need at cornerback.

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