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Justin Fields is Just Another Casualty in the NFL Draft Misinformation Wars

By Stephen Douglas
Justin Fields
Justin Fields / Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Dan Orlovsky caused a stir this week when he told Pat McAfee that he was hearing Justin Fields had a poor work ethic in the wake of his excellent pro day. Orlovsky then faced backlash from people like Kirk Herbstreit because he was the one to pass those juicy pre-draft tidbits along to the public. Orlovsky then quickly tried to make ammends by calling people who worked with Fields to confirm that he is in fact a hard worker.

This morning former NFL player and current quarterback expert J.T. O'Sullivan gave a lengthy interview to the Sacramento Bee. In the interview O'Sullivan also stuck up for Fields. Via the SacBee:

“What I make of the criticism is that it’s absolute bulls--- the way that it’s framed and the way it was shared,” O’Sullivan said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that teams aren’t investigating what the truth is. And they absolutely are doing those things, having conversations with the equipment staff, having conversations with strength and conditioning, having conversations with teammates. Trust me, I’ve been through this process. I know they’re finding ways to get as much information as possible. I just find it hard to believe, from what I can see, strictly from the surface, with a totally incomplete analysis.”

“To battle back after he got hit against Clemson, and really, in my opinion, outplayed Trevor Lawrence on a national stage, to say that he doesn’t want it or there’s evidence of work ethic issues. That’s a total crock,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t see evidence of that. If somebody’s going to say that, they need to say where they’re getting that information from and that person needs to provide some evident and context to back it up.”

As we previously noted, it is Orlovsky's job to obtain information about players and then relay that to the public. He did exactly that with Fields. In most cases it's no big deal to just pass things along, but should he sometimes consider the motivations of his sources for sharing certain things?

The thing is, this happens all the time, right? Teams pump up guys they don't want and float dirt on guys they want to drop to them in the draft, right? At this point aren't we all operating under the presumption that everything you hear during draft season is misinformation?

The 49ers moved up to third for a reason. They have a player in mind. Shouldn't they be quietly telling everyone outside San Francisco that the guy they really want actually sucks? They know the Jaguars are taking Trevor Lawrence even if Urban Meyer can only give vague unconfirming nods without explicitly saying that is exactly what we are doing. The Niners want the Jets to pick third best guy in the draft with the second pick. If you hear from someone in San Francisco that a player is awesome, they would rather have someone else.

So now that Orlovsky has spoken to people who are actually willing to put their names on their comments, does he stop talking to the people who fed him the original nuggets? Or is this all just part of the game? Is Fields the goal or the collatoral? We'll never know because even if the team that originally talked to Orlovsky drafts Fields, they'll never come out and admit any of it. Orlovsky won't go on television and say he can't believe that team drafted Fields after what they told him last month. It will all just fade away and Fields will be the only one left being affected by any of it. The guy who people said they thought had no work ethic, even if they didn't believe it for a second.

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