Why the Broncos passed on Justin Fields | You Pod to Win the Game

Yahoo Sports’ Senior NFL Writer Charles Robinson details a conversation he had with a member of the Broncos organization to Yahoo Sports Draft Expert Eric Edholm, in which he learned why Denver and possibly other NFL teams decided to pass on the Bears' talented rookie quarterback.

Video Transcript


CHARLES ROBINSON: When I went through Denver, I had a chance to have a really long conversation with someone about Fields. And I said why? What was the reason? Why did you pass on this guy? And he said, look, it wasn't the talent. He said, we really liked the talent a lot. He was like, it was the medical.

And he just said, look, the epilepsy. The concern about it was, when they kind of got down to the root of it, I said, it was controlled at Ohio State. They said, yes, but the concern is the amount of risk that is there the day you draft him versus what's there 10 years down the line is the same. It never dissipates. He's like, there's no way to change what the element of risk is.

We're sitting there asking ourselves, what happens if we have a season where, god forbid, he goes through a David Carr-type season and gets sacked 90 times? What if he just gets destroyed? And they have a good line. They have good depth. But I think it was just, they had to go through the worst case scenarios. And they felt like they could not come up with a way in their minds, just some fashion to mitigate the risk long-term with him.

And that's unfortunate. But I will say this. They didn't bang on his talent. That clearly was not the issue there. And teams do pass on some good players because they look at the medical, and they go, particularly, hey, it's my first year as general manager. I'm George Peyton. And do I want to make my first quarterback pick, the foundational centerpiece of my team, is this the time to take that risk?

You can also talk about the fact that they're somewhere lost in that abyss of Deshaun Watson interest.


And then what about that risk? That's a different kind of risk. But I did think it was interesting to know that the medical did play into Denver bypassing him and Denver fans always staring at him in Chicago and wondering what could been.

ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah, because that story broke pretty close to the draft. It was a week or two before, whatever it was. And all radio shows were asking, is this going to cause them to drop? And I said, no, I don't think so. But it is always going to be a case-by-case basis. Some teams are going to put more stock into it.

It was funny. There was one team that wouldn't sort of get too deep into it but did say, hey, this isn't just something that automatically is controlled by medication or that automatically you outgrow as a human being. I mean, Tiki Barber, Ronday Barber both had it. Both didn't have issues with it later in their lives.


ERIC EDHOLM: Some people are plagued by it forever. And obviously, the high-risk nature of the sport could exacerbate that as well.

So I get where George Paton in the Broncos might be coming from. I get where their medical staff may want to be a little bit conservative. I understand that.

I also know that, as you pointed out, you had a stand-up double with Patrick Surtain there. That makes a good defense better. And there's no reason they can't go back in the quarterback market next year.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah. And Surtain, by the way, when I was there-- and obviously, he had the pick six in the game. But when I was there, Surtain looked unbelievably good. I was like, oh, my god, that guy looks-- I couldn't believe he was a rookie. And physically, how gifted he was, the way he moved on the field.

And what I thought was really interesting was they were teaching him in Vic Fangio's system. I asked Vic afterward, I said, can you remember the last time you took a rookie corner and taught him basically everything you were going to ask him to do from, literally, the first week of practice? And he was like, never. It's never happened. There's never been a corner that young that he's taught everything. And he said the kid absorbs it like nothing.