Disclaimer: We know that creating an NFL mock draft is not an exact science.
But one mock draft published by NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly on Thursday, specifically, has one glaring difference from practically all that have came before it.
And it just can’t be right … right?
The difference is in regards to Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Casserly predicts that Fields will be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers… at No. 24 overall.
We’re talking about a player who, up until the last four or so months, was considered the No. 2 quarterback prospect in the entire class behind only Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
Casserly still has the top three picks all being dedicated to quarterbacks with Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1, Zach Wilson to the New York Jets at No. 2 and Mac Jones to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3. (Ironically, our NESN.com NFL Mock Draft 1.0 has the exact same top-four selections.)
But after Jones, the NFL analyst doesn’t have the fourth quarterback (Trey Lance) coming off the board until No. 14 overall to the Washington Football Team. Fields will be the fifth and final quarterback selected in the first round, per Casserly’s estimation.
It’s also important to note that Fields going to Pittsburgh wouldn’t be as major a shock if they traded up to get him. The Steelers, after all, need a quarterback of the future with Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight of his career. It just feels like getting Fields to drop to No. 24 seems, at the very least, very, very far-fetched.
It would mean teams who are in need of a long-term quarterback, for example, the New England Patriots at No. 15 or the Chicago Bears at No. 20 would pass on Fields despite having him fall to them (and not having to trade up) a few spots earlier.
The 2021 NFL Draft will begin April 29.