If you believe the mock drafts and Max Kellerman’s racism radar, then Justin Fields is falling fast. The NFL draft starts tonight, and the expectation is for a historic run of quarterbacks picked high.
Or in my mind: Way too high.
Five quarterbacks -- Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Fields -- are all expected to go early in the first round tonight, probably in that order. Fields, though, might not go as early as was once expected.
The truth is, the whole group, after Lawrence, is overrated. But the whole projected-draft thing took a turn the other day when Kellerman said on his ESPN show “First Take’’ that his antenna was up because the top three picks of the draft are all expected to be quarterbacks, in this order: “White guy, white guy, white guy.’’
Maybe so, but the four highest paid players in the NFL are all quarterbacks and in this order: black guy, black guy, black guy, black guy. (That’s Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson.)
I don’t really know why Fields is dropping, or even IF he is dropping. And neither does Kellerman. Fields is the second best quarterback in this draft. He can do anything and seems to have a great feel for what’s going on. Plus, he played hurt in the College Football Playoff.
Fine, he had a bad game against Indiana during the season. He definitely has stood in the pocket and held the ball too long. And I’m not sure people know what to do with the recent revelation that he has epilepsy.
But as someone who has watched the Chicago Bears fail time and again to get a decent quarterback, I’ll just say this: I’ll take one of him, please.
I think Kellerman is wrong, and he’s also talking about a different era. But more importantly, what he said is dangerous. If you want to be a social justice warrior, then great. More power to you.
But these are highly divided times. And what did Kellerman actually even say? He looked at the speculation of mock drafts and then said his antenna would be up for racism? So, in other words, he might have suspicion about something that people are predicting might happen?
He’s speculating on speculation. If you have something to say, Max, then just say it.
And what was the point? Just to bring up racism and create a talking point, as TV talkers are paid to do? The NFL draft is one of the biggest sporting events in this country now, and Kellerman just sparked racial tensions over it, not only without evidence but also without conviction.
“I know it’s on my radar,’’ he said. “Sometimes quarterbacks rise, sometimes they fall, but what I’ve noticed in recent years, after decades of artificial barriers being put in place for black quarterbacks is that, vis-à-vis white quarterbacks, black quarterbacks in the draft tend to fall pre-draft.
“Sometimes it’s right. Daniel Jones looks like he’s going to be better than Dwayne Haskins. And sometimes it’s wrong. Mitch Trubisky is not as good as Deshaun Watson or certainly not Patrick Mahomes.
“The point is, the correlation that can be made is that your status falls, vis-à-vis white quarterbacks, and that’s why my antennae are up when I notice one, two and three this year -- white guy, white guy, white guy. But that may be correct. We need to see in the end how these guys turn out as pros.’’
I don’t understand his point. If he’s saying that racism might go into who gets picked when, then what difference does it make which quarterbacks pan out and which ones flop?
It’s as if he’s saying that race played into the Bears’ decision to take Trubisky and the evidence is that Mahomes and Watson turned out to be better quarterbacks. Everyone in Chicago knows the reason the Bears took Trubisky is because general manager Ryan Pace doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing, particularly when it comes to judging quarterbacks.
It’s hard to believe that ESPN, despite its social justice leanings, told Kellerman to push that narrative. ESPN has too much money tied up in the NFL to start undermining the league.
The draft is really one big crapshoot. Everyone is convinced that Lawrence, from Clemson, will be a star with coach Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. Let’s go with that at pick No. 1.
The New York Jets are going to take Zach Wilson, from Brigham Young, at No. 2, which seems like a real stretch. The San Francisco 49ers traded three current and future first-round picks to get the third pick. All indications are that that means Jones from Alabama, based on his accuracy, I guess. Certainly not his footspeed.
Jones should go in the bottom of the first round. Lance, from North Dakota State, played one game last year. No one really knows how he’ll react in a big game situation against a top defense. Yet somehow, people are seeing him as the fourth pick, while saying he has a high ceiling and a low basement. Or something like that.
Jones is a white quarterback trending too high and Lance is a black quarterback trending too high. Not sure how Kellerman’s radar registers those two things.
I register it this way: NFL teams are panicking because the mandate from fans is for each team to get its own Mahomes. The next generation of quarterbacks is in now, with Mahomes as its leader, and no one wants to be left out of an entire generation, particularly if they weren’t included in the last one.
All five of these guys will be starting quarterbacks before the end of their rookie season. NFL fans will demand it. They will all be seen as saviors, whether black or white. In a few years, we’ll get a reading from Kellerman’s radar.
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