The Philadelphia Eagles have yet to declare Jalen Hurts their starting quarterback for 2021. Likewise, the franchise hasn’t ruled out the possibility of drafting a rookie signal-caller in the first round.
One name that has been linked to them dating back to February is Justin Fields. The former Ohio State quarterback is one of the top prospects in the draft, although a recent medical disclosure — Fields has been managing epilepsy since childhood — has some wondering if he may drop down draft boards.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day was quick to put out a statement defending Fields, saying the condition never affected him on the field. The 22-year-old never missed a game in college — 22 games, including not opting out during the COVID-19 pandemic — and completed 68.4% of his throws for 5,373 yards and 63 touchdowns, plus 15 rushing scores over the past two seasons.
Justin’s health, toughness and work ethic have never been an issue and I am incredibly proud of his professionalism and the character he displays on and off the field. The fact that he never missed a game at Ohio State speaks volumes about how he takes care of himself.
— Ryan Day (@ryandaytime) April 21, 2021
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky also put Fields under the microscope by criticizing his work ethic in comments he has since back-tracked on. Day also rushed to his quarterback’s defense after those concerns came out in the public eye.
“I heard something about (Fields being) the last one to come in, first one to leave,” Day said, via CBS Sports. “First off, the scouts weren’t in our building all year. Last one in? Every morning, at least every morning we could be in the building, early, he’s in there.”
OSU QB Justin Fields has confirmed to NFL teams during the pre-draft process that he is managing epilepsy – a neurological disorder that can cause seizures, per me and @TomPelissero. It has not affected football & doctors believe he’ll outgrow it as his other family members have.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 21, 2021
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Eagles Targeting Rookie QB in First Round?
Hurts is still believed to be the starter in Philly even as Nick Sirianni continues his gamesmanship during press conferences. They might draft someone to compete with Joe Flacco for the backup job, but the thought of them drafting a quarterback in the first is a far-fetched one. Or is it?
Fields is an interesting case study, especially if teams start seeing red flags. He’s still expected to go in the Top-10 — Detroit (No. 7) or Denver (No. 9) could take him or trade out — because of his immense talent and laser arm.
Today is a good day to remind everyone what Justin Fields did to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
22/28 passing for 385 yards and 6 TDs.pic.twitter.com/A8Tew4MUWt
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 18, 2021
However, there’s always a chance he slips to No. 12 on draft day and the Eagles could be ready to pounce. Philadelphia could also decide to package some of its draft capital and move up a few spots if they feel like Fields is their long-term answer at quarterback.
“You want to make sure that you understand what they’re looking for and what you’re willing to do,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said. “We’ll talk to teams in front of us. We’ll talk to every team in the league. We’ll talk to teams in back of us. We’ll figure out what they’d be willing to do if their guy is there. Now, it’s all contingent on a player being there, but we try to have all that homework done.”
Alabama’s Mac Jones Goes to Philly at No. 12
Here’s a shocker: Roseman stays put at No. 12 and lands Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. It’s an unlikely scenario since Jones is expected to go much higher, but one floated out there in a new mock draft from USA Today’s For The Win.
Here is what contributor Henry McKenna wrote, in what he acknowledged would be a surprise move for both the Eagles and Jones:
Jones is the kind of pocket passer that many NFL general managers think is going extinct. Some think the era of statuesque quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees is over. But perhaps the Eagles will zig while the league zags. Perhaps they can land an elite quarterback prospect, who thrives in the pocket. Perhaps QB mobility is growing overrated. But, again, maybe the Eagles have no idea what’s going on.
NFL mock draft: The Broncos outbid the Patriots to trade up for a QB and the Eagles cause chaos
— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) April 22, 2021