Looking at many mock draft boards across the internet, not many predict he will fall out of the top five.
However, stranger things have happened in the NFL.
Remember, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers slipped to the 24th pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Detroit Lions currently have the 7th pick of this year’s draft. With Fields dealing with a lingering hip injury, which was on full display in the National Championship, there is a possibility he could be available at No. 7.
And if that happens, the Detroit Lions must draft him no matter what.
Fields could be the future face of the Lions and have a chance to learn from Matthew Stafford.
Let’s make one thing clear.
If Justin Fields is available to the Detroit Lions at the 7th overall picking, drafting him does not mean the team has to push Matthew Stafford out of the backdoor. Nonetheless, the Lions have to plan for the future.
Stafford will be 33 years old at the start of the next season, and he’s not getting any younger (or healthier). Along with that, he’s suffered numerous injuries over the last few seasons. In 2019, he only played eight games due to a spinal injury.
And this season was arguably worse than the year before, even with him playing all 16 games.
On November 15th, against Washington, Stafford suffered a right thumb injury. He followed that up with a rib injury on December 13th against Green Bay. Then in the Lions’ second to last game, he injured his ankle.
He’s not getting any younger.
The last thing the Lions should want to do is find themselves in a situation where Matthew Stafford retires prematurely or requests a trade, and they don’t have a succession plan at the quarterback position.
If (and only if) Fields is available at No. 7, the Lions should pull the trigger to draft him. Just like Aaron Rodgers learned under Hall of Famer Brett Favre, Fields can sit and learn under Stafford. Rodgers sat for three seasons under observing Favre before he got his first start in 2008.
While there is no rush to play Fields immediately, no one should expect him to wait that long if the Lions have a chance to get him.
Stafford is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and with Fields coming off an injury himself, it’ll do him a great fortune for his future to under from one of the best.
What does the former Ohio State Buckeye bring to the table?
Justin Fields is a different type of quarterback prospect than the former Buckeyes’ quarterback that preceded him.
He’s the real deal.
During his two seasons at Ohio State, Fields had 5,373 passing yards with 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions, to go along with 867 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Outside of being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019, he’s a two-time Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year and two-time Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year. Along with that, he led the Buckeyes to two consecutive Big Ten Championships and is fresh off leading them to the National Championship.
In eight games this past season, he threw for 2,100, 22 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also rushed for 383 yards and five touchdowns. With new Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes having a knack for finding talent, Fields can be the perfect player to build the Lions’ future around.
While it all sounds like the perfect scenario, it all depends on what input the new head coach will have. In the press conference after the Lions fired former general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia, team owner Sheila Ford-Hamp said Matthew Stafford’s future as the Lions’ quarterback wouldn’t be her decision.
Instead, she said that would be a decision made by the next head coach. And according to multiple reports, that will be Dan Campbell.
Regardless of what happens with Stafford, the Lions need to plan for a future without him. Taking Justin Fields (if available) is the appropriate first step.