Reportedly Part of the Reason Denver Didn't Draft Justin Fields? “The Epilepsy”

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Reportedly Part of the Reason Denver Didn’t Draft Justin Fields? “The Epilepsy”

Chicago Bears

When Justin Fields’ draft stock was dropping this past April, I couldn’t get a grasp as to why.

And while I’m happy the Bears were the beneficiaries of something I thought was inexplicable, part of me is still curious as to how it happened in the first place. I simply can’t quiet that part of my brain.

But some details have recently begun to emerge as to why Fields fell outside of the top-10.

Charles Robinson (Yahoo! Sports) spun a tale to teammate Eric Edholm, sharing details from a conversation with someone in the Denver Broncos organization explaining why their team (and perhaps, others) didn’t draft Fields when the opportunity presented itself. And for what it’s worth, it wasn’t about the talent:

“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.”

This thread featuring Robinson and Broncos reporter Benjamin Allbright provides some more background:

On April 21, it was reported that Fields had disclosed to NFL teams that he is managing epilepsy.

At the time, we wrote it felt like a big deal (because it was). A sure-fire first-round quarterback with oodles of talent disclosing a serious medical condition is a big deal. But per reporting at the time, Fields was (1) playing through it in college, (2) taking his medicine as prescribed, and (3) open in discussing the medical issue with teams. In that moment, with Fields getting ahead of the story, I didn’t think it would impact his stock. Instead, Robinson relays that the Broncos (and possibly other teams?) weren’t comfortable with the risk-reward dynamic that presents itself. And ultimately, the team chose to draft cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

At this stage of the game, as a Bears fan, I just find myself thankful the chips fell as they did to allow GM Ryan Pace to make a move up to draft Fields. So much needs to happen still for Fields and this franchise to reach their full potential. But having Fields, in good health, in tow makes it an easier path than whatever the alternative happens to be.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.