The Chicago Bears actually traded up to draft Mitchell Trubisky, while Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were on the board in the same draft.
NFL teams are about to make the same mistake with BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields and perhaps North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
Wilson had one good season against a schedule that draft analyst Mel Kiper described as a “cupcake” ledger. One of the cupcakes, Coastal Carolina, beat Wilson and the Cougars.
But some teams have Wilson rated higher than Fields, who led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff Championship game last season.
Why don’t the NFL teams see the error of their ways? We asked Kiper what was different about the Trubisky/Watson mistake and teams appearing ready to make the same -- Wilson/Fields -- mistake.
“When you look at Wilson and the year he had, the athleticism and he was a basketball player in high school,” Kiper said. “Zach is not a pocket guy. He can move around. You saw him hurdling a defender. The accuracy. The way he spins it.
“Mitchell Trubisky went second. They traded up from three to two to get him. A lot of teams thought he would be a really good quarterback.”
Trubisky has played in 51 games and has a 29-21 record as a starter on a team with a superior defense. Watson, a former Falcons ballboy from Gainesville, has gone 28-25 within a dysfunctional organization.
“The Bears thought they had a guy who could be closing the gap (on Green Bay’s) Aaron Rodgers,” Kiper said. “He looked OK early on, but then it went awry.”
Wilson is rated by some as the second quarterback behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, of Cartersville.
“Zach is going to go high,” Kiper said. “Justin Fields is probably (going to) fall in that seven area.”
The knock on Fields is that he had subpar games against Indiana and Northwestern last season. His performance in the 49-28 dismantling of Clemson in the national semifinals should outweigh those two Big Ten games.
“Had Justin not had those two hiccups, he probably would have been right there with the majority of teams and been a consensus No. 2, but I think Indiana and Northwestern games prevented that from happening,” Kiper said. “I think holding those two games against him is unfair.”
Kiper has Fields rated higher, but has Wilson going ahead of him in his latest mock draft.
“I have Fields as the second quarterback in the draft behind Lawrence,” Kiper said. “Some have Wilson. I’ve heard some have Fields. Not everybody has Wilson.”
Why is this not Trubisky vs. Watson, Part 2?
“I don’t see Wilson being Mitchell Trubisky, but I didn’t see Mitchell Trubisky being what he is right now, a disappointment in Chicago after a decent start,” Kiper said. “I think Wilson ultimately goes before Justin Fields, but I have Fields rated slightly ahead of Wilson.”
Why is this important? Well, the Falcons have the fourth overall pick.
If the Jets decide to take Fields with the No. 2 pick, the Falcons will have a decision to make at No. 4. Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts will be on the board after Miami selects LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
You have to remember that Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said he will take the best player available. With only 39 players on the 90-man roster, the Falcons have many needs, too.
Despite needing help on the offensive line, the best player could point to another position and have the Falcons take Pitts.
“When you look at Kyle Pitts you think top 5,” Kiper said. “Fourth pick overall to Atlanta, if the Jets don’t trade down with Atlanta. I do think he’s the second-best player on a lot of team’s (draft boards). He will be on my board by the time we get to late April. He’s in that top five overall (group).”
Pitts, who’s 6-foot-6, finished his career with 100 catches for 1,492 yards and 18 touchdowns. He became Florida’s all-time leader for receiving yards by a tight end.
Pitts was the Mackey Award winner, which goes to the nation’s top tight end.
He makes sense for the Falcons under new coach Arthur Smith, who used a lot of double-tight end formations with the Titans. He had four tight ends with at least 347 snaps last season. Jonnu Smith played 731 snaps (69.9%), Geoff Swaim played 488 (33%), Anthony Firkser played 431 snaps (31.9%) and MyCole Pruitt played 347 snaps (24.4%).
Sewell then would go to the Bengals with the fifth overall pick.
“For Cincinnati, he’s exactly what they are looking for,” Kiper said. “I think he would be an ideal pick at that point. Sewell to me would be no later than five. Some are projecting him down as low as 10. I don’t see that happening. That’s just me. I think the Bengals will be the ideal spot.”
So, here are the picks for the Mock Draft 2.0 (first round only/no trades):
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
2. New York Jets: Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
3. Miami Dolphins: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
4. Falcons: Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
6. Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
7. Detroit Lions: Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
8. Carolina Panthers: : Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
9. Denver Broncos: Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain (CB, Alabama)
11. New York Giants: Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)
12. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
13. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashawn Slater (OT, Northwestern)
14. Minnesota Vikings: Gregory Rousseau (DE, Miami)
15. New England Patriots: Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
16. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Darrisaw (OT, Virginia Tech)
17. Las Vegas Raiders: Kwity Paye (DE/LB, Michigan)
18. Miami Dolphins: Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
19. Washington: Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
20. Chicago Bears: Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
21. Indianapolis Colts: Greg Newsome (CB, Northwestern)
22. Tennessee Titans: Jaelan Phillips (DE/LB, Miami)
23. New York Jets: Ronnie Perkins (DE/LB, Oklahoma)
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson)
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tylan Wallace (WR, Oklahoma State)
26. Cleveland Browns: Aaron Robinson (CB, Central Florida)
27: Baltimore Ravens: Creed Humphrey (C, Oklahoma)
28: New Orleans Saints: Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
29: Green Bay Packers: Asante Samuel (CB, Florida State)
30: Buffalo Bills: Alex Leatherwood (OT, Alabama)
31: Kansas City Chiefs: Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
32: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Azeez Ojulari (DE, Georgia)
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