Ahead of the NFL draft selection scheduled for Thursday, sports commentators are casting their predictions as to which star college athletes will be selected in first-round picks, particularly which quarterbacks.
Per ESPN’s current rankings, top contenders include Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones.
Analysts on the sports channel reviewed the player rankings prior to Thursday’s draft selection, and one anchor, Max Kellerman, noticed a potentially troubling trend among pre-draft rankings.
Kellerman posited that over the years, Black quarterbacks are likely to be under evaluated in pre-draft selections in comparison to their white counterparts.
“What I’ve noticed in recent years after decades of artificial barriers being put in place for Black quarterbacks that vis a vis white quarterbacks, Black quarterbacks in the draft tend to fall pre-draft––their evaluations,” he said.
This comes as one quarterback in question, Justin Fields of Ohio State, fell in evaluations from the number two quarterback pick to number five while other players ascended past him.
Kellerman acknowledged that sometimes these predictions can be correct, but other times can be wrong.
Regardless, he says a correlation can be made between Black quarterback draft hopefuls seeing falling rankings as opposed to white college quarterbacks.
“That’s why my antenna are up when I notice one, two, and three this year: white guy, white guy, white guy,” he explained.
The NFL has a complicated history surrounding racial equality and relations. Although a 2020 analysis shows that nearly 58 percent of NFL players are Black or African American, the industry has been slow to support its players who peacefully protest against racist policing in the U.S. –– most infamously illustrated with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem in protest, launching a national debate over protesting and police brutality.
Following the Black Lives Matter civil rights protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd’s death, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a formal statement condemning systemic racism on behalf of the league and admitted that the NFL was wrong for not heeding its players’ activism.