Despite the recent conversation around him, former Ohio State star Justin Fields remains one of the highest ranked prospects in this year’s NFL draft class. With multiple organizations in need of a young quarterback, the 22-year-old should be off the board early on April 29.
But where Fields will end up remains in question. Former NFL general manager and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannebaum made his latest bold prediction for the quarterback’s landing spot on Tuesday: the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers made a splash on Monday, acquiring Sam Darnold in a trade with the New York Jets. With 2020 starter Teddy Bridgewater still on the roster, Carolina would have a surplus of quarterbacks, especially if they were to draft Fields.
“The Panthers dealt three picks to the Jets for Sam Darnold on Monday, but I still think QB is the play in Round 1. Seriously,” Tannenbaum wrote in his latest mock draft. “Darnold is owed roughly $24 million over the next two years, and Fields would be on a rookie contract. The worst case here: Carolina has two good, young, cost-effective QBs and can make a decision to move one of them down the road. (And the Panthers could still get something for Teddy Bridgewater.) For what it’s worth, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer agrees.”
“If you remove the tape from a few of his games this season (Indiana, Northwestern and Alabama), Fields would be in the No. 2 overall pick discussion. His accuracy is excellent most of the time, though there are some lapses. If not QB, cornerback is an option for Carolina, and Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) would fit.”
This is the draft order @RealTannenbaum would make if he were selecting all the picks.
He still believes the Panthers should draft Justin Fields at No. 8, even AFTER trading for Sam Darnold. pic.twitter.com/akkjU1nKCK
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) April 6, 2021
Tannebaum’s suggestion is certainly bold, but the Panthers are prepared to move off of Bridgewater’s contract at some point this offseason. On Tuesday, Ian Rapoport reported that the organization’s front office is giving the NFL veteran an opportunity to explore the trade market.
Although the Panthers still have some other needs to address at this year’s draft, especially on defense, all eyes will be on their pick at No. 8 if Justin Fields is still available.