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Mel Kiper Jr. Addresses Justin Fields vs. Zach Wilson Debate

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields scrambles against Clemson.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 28: Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs the ball against the Clemson Tigers in the first half during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

While there is reportedly an exception among NFL teams, the vast majority of people have Trevor Lawrence as the top quarterback in the NFL Draft. He's presumed to be a lock to go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in April. He headlines a stacked quarterback class, which could see five or six guys go in the first round. BYU's Zach Wilson and Ohio State's Justin Fields are believed to be dueling it out to be the second quarterback off the board, and perhaps the No. 2 pick overall, if the New York Jets opt for a new QB.

The two have very different resumes. Wilson blew up this fall, shining for a BYU team that played an admittedly easy schedule, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 12 games, he threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, and just three interceptions, adding 10 scores on the ground. He led the Cougars to an 11-1 record with a win over UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Fields, meanwhile, was more up-and-down individually, but guided Ohio State to the national championship, crushing Lawrence's Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff. He also had a better statistical season than Lawrence, and was very consistent in 2019.

Mel Kiper Jr. has had Fields as his No. 2 quarterback since the start of this NFL Draft cycle, and he's not wavering just yet, but he does think the debate is an interesting one.

Kiper admits that Fields' poor games against the likes of Indiana and Northwestern were troubling, but when it came to the biggest spot of his career at that point—the semifinal game against Clemson—he really proved some things.

Via Saturday Tradition:

"He had that same amount of pressure on him on that field against Trevor Lawrence. They both came out of high school with similar grades. Here they are semifinal game. He’s not expected to be able to do it, and he did it. And he got hurt, and he still did it. And the guts I think the competitiveness in that game to go out and do what he did I got to give him big kudos.

“And that’s why it’s hard for me with the schedule Wilson played, now I’ve always had Fields ahead of Wilson I haven’t changed things, I’m waiting it out. And I haven’t seen pro days yet. Measurables we haven’t gotten yet. Bottom line is, this is kind of like Affirmed and Alydar. I always reference the Triple Crown races because it was that close. It’s that close with these two quarterbacks, I believe, in Justin Fields and Zach Wilson coming down the stretch.”

Fields was seen as something closer to 1A to Lawrence entering the year. After his inconsistent play, and the emergence of guys like Wilson, the picture has been significantly muddled, making for one of the most interesting storylines we've had in recent NFL Draft history. A number of teams in the Top 10 could go after a quarterback, so the first round on April 29th should be a can't-miss event.

[ESPN via Saturday Tradition]