Justin Fields has wrongly gone through the kind of pre-draft critique that too many Black quarterbacks have dealt with in the past.
Despite the numbers and analytics telling us otherwise, his accuracy and processing has been questioned. Despite playing through injury in the past and pushing for a season in the middle of a pandemic, his work ethic and love for the game has been questioned. Former NFL quarterback and current analyst Mark Sanchez isn't having any of that.
Sanchez appeared Tuesday morning on the "Pat McAfee Show" and went to bat for Fields, dismissing any questions about his football IQ.
"This guy, Dr. Goldman, he's a sports psychologist," Sanchez said. "I talked to him yesterday. He has some interesting information on how he evaluates players, all players from all different sports, OK? Since 2012, this guy's interviewed and given basically a mental aptitude test on an iPad [to] 6,500 athletes. Professional athletes, not just this Average Joe walking down the street.
"They have a learning efficiency rating on there, so it's basically [about] acquisition -- like how many reps does it take until you get it, until you understand something -- and then your recall. Like, once you have it, can you bring it back and use it, right? That's basically what they're trying to figure out in that part of this test.
"Justin Fields, the guy who supposedly can't go through his reads, doesn't have great work ethic, all this bogus stuff -- he scored the highest. Ever. He scored the highest that they can rank him. He scored a 130 on it. [Patrick] Mahomes was like a 108. Josh Allen was like a 108. Over 100 is good.
"Bro, he was a 130. OK? This kid can learn. Essentially, it would equate to like an average playbook that's not that complicated, he'd learn it faster than anybody. A very complicated playbook, to him it would be like an average playbook.
"This kid was in the top one percent of 6,500 pro athletes, OK? This kid is bright."
We know Kyle Shanahan's 49ers offense isn't an easy one to learn. He has a very complex playbook. We also know the plan right now is for Jimmy Garoppolo to remain the starting QB in 2021 before a young signal-caller takes over the next season.
That sounds like a perfect situation for Fields. He learned two different offenses in college at Georgia and Ohio State, and if Sanchez's story is true, he clearly is built to quickly learn a NFL offense, too.
It's time to stop questioning Fields' intelligence. The claim isn't fair and the schtick is played out, to put it lightly.
If Shanahan is looking for a bright QB to pick up his offense, Fields certainly could be his ideal quarterback of the future.