Panthers Rumors: Justin Fields Seen as 'Generational' QB by Some with Carolina

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields passes against Clemson during the second half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Carolina Panthers may have traded for quarterback Sam Darnold this offseason, but that doesn't mean they're done at the position. 

One player to keep an eye on when the Panthers draft No. 8 overall during Thursday's NFL draft is Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, "Some Panthers officials see Fields as a generational talent and think the team should keep taking big swings at the position, according to sources. We could find out Thursday night if [general manager Scott Fitterer] and [head coach Matt Rhule] share that view."

It's very possible that Fields could drop to No. 8. Take a tour of some of the mock drafts going around, and Fields makes it to the Panthers in more than a few.

Albert Breer of SI.com believes the Panthers will draft him, reporting that "Owner David Tepper has told people he wants to throw resources at the quarterback spot until he gets it right."

Peter King of Pro Football Talk has Fields going to the Panthers as well, adding that "Tepper has made no secret that finding a franchise quarterback has to be job one, two, three and four for the team."

Granted, both writers added that they wouldn't be surprised if the Panthers tried to trade down the board to acquire more draft assets as well.

And perhaps Fields doesn't fall that far. Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network projected him going No. 7 to the Detroit Lions in his last mock draft. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports thinks the San Francisco 49ers will draft him, even if most of the reporting making the rounds has them deciding between Mac Jones and Trey Lance.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From NFL Now: The #49ers are down to two. What now for SF as they pick between Mac Jones and Trey Lance. https://t.co/KJMS3gPR0F

But if Fields does make it to No. 8, it will leave the Panthers with a fascinating choice. Draft him and let him battle it out with Darnold? Or look to trade the pick to a quarterback-needy team like the New England Patriots or Chicago Bears and accumulate draft assets? 

That would perhaps take the Panthers out of the running for one of the top players on their board, however, a factor they'll also have to consider. 

As for what the team would be getting in Fields, Jeremiah considers him the No. 8 talent in this draft class, writing that he has "good size, excellent arm strength and remarkable athleticism for the quarterback position."

He added that Fields "has a chance to be special, but it's going to take some time for him to speed up his clock in the passing game."

The Panthers will have to decide just how special they believe he can become if he's available to them at No. 8.