Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots favored to land Justin Fields in NFL Draft

Now that it’s become increasingly clear that Justin Fields will fall past three in the 2021 NFL Draft, both the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are in play for the former Ohio State star.

Recent reports suggest that the San Francisco 49ers are going to choose between Alabama’s Mac Jones and Trey Lance from North Dakota State with the third pick. That could enable a team to move up with the Atlanta Flacons at four for the former Buckeyes star quarterback.

According to DraftKings (h/t Pro Football Focus), the Panthers and Patriots are now betting favorites to land Fields once the 2021 NFL Draft starts on Thursday.

  • Carolina Panthers: +300
  • New England Patriots: +300
  • Atlanta Falcons: +400
  • Denver Broncos: +400

It seems to be relatively obvious that Justin Fields has seen his draft stock fall some in recent days. One has to wonder whether it has to do with the revelation that he’s dealing with epilepsy. Perhaps, NFL teams just aren’t as high on him as the media and fans. Either way, Fields could make sense for all of these teams.

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Read More: 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Expert Picks & Analysis on Round 1 Prospects

Justin Fields to the Carolina Panthers?

After trading three draft picks for Sam Darnold, it makes little sense for Carolina to turn around and exhaust a top-eight selection on another quarterback. The team has needs on both sides of the ball and could very well decide to pick up the expensive option on Darnold’s rookie contract for the 2022 season.

Even then, Fields just seems to be a perfect fit in head coach Matt Rhule’s offensive system. His dynamic dual-threat ability could take this unit to new heights with running back Christian McCaffrey and stud young wide receiver D.J. Moore already set to shine moving forward.

Read More: 2021 NFL Draft big board: Ranking top 100 prospects

Will the New England Patriots trade up for Justin Fields?

Justin Fields to 49ers NFL Draft buzz rapidly growing
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2021 CFP National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

That’s the biggest question surrounding Bill Belichick and Co., heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Trading up in the first round would be against his MO during a brilliant two-decade run in New England. With that said, everything that the Patriots have done since missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2008 has run against Belichick’s MO.

Unless the Panthers’ reported interest in Justin Fields is smoke to entice a team in a trade-up scenario, the Patriots would likely have to move up to seven in order to land the former Ohio State star.

Even then, it would not be a guarantee. Assuming the 49ers take Lance or Jones at three, a trade up with the Atlanta Falcons at four would only guarantee Fields to the Patriots.

As for the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos, those seem to be lesser scenarios. Sure the Falcons could look to nab a quarterback at four to eventually replace Matt Ryan. With that said, they seem intent on sticking with the former NFL MVP moving forward. Florida tight end Kyle Pitts seems to be a better bet with the fourth selection.

New Broncos general manager George Paton could very well look to find his own quarterback after Drew Lock struggled as a sophomore last season. The issue here is that Denver doesn’t seem willing to move up from the ninth pick in Round 1 on Thursday. Short of Fields dropping down the board big time, it won’t have a chance to land the dynamic dual-threat signal caller.