2021 NFL Draft Player Preview: Justin Fields

  • Justin Fields, 6-3/223

  • Quarterback

  • Ohio State

  • Justin Fields 2020 Preview
    By Charlie Campbell

    Career Recap: Coming out of high school, Fields was one of the top recruits in the nation along with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. Fields ended up at Georgia after a competitive recruiting battle. As a freshman backup to Jake Fromm, Fields was 27-of-39 for 328 yards with four touchdowns passing and four touchdowns rushing. Fields decided to transfer after that season, landing at Ohio State while the Bulldogs stuck with Fromm as their starter for 2019. As a sophomore for the Buckeyes, Fields was one of the best players in college football, dominating the Big Ten and leading Ohio State to a spot in the college football playoff. Fields completed 67 percent of his passes in 2019 for 3,273 yards with 41 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 484 yards and 10 scores.

    2020 Season Outlook: Ohio State is loaded with talent as usual, and Fields should roll over an easy Big Ten schedule. The Buckeyes have one quality non-conference opponent in Oregon, but the Ducks lost a lot to the NFL, so they will probably take a step back in 2020. Fields will see some quality conference opponents in Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan. However, there are plenty of easy Big Ten opponents for Fields to produce some huge stat lines against.

    Skill-Set Summary: Between his arm and his legs, Fields is extremely tough for defenses to defend. His dual-threat skill set is similar to recent top quarterback prospects like Pat Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. Fields could continue that trend in the 2021 NFL Draft.

    As a passer, Fields has a lot of ability for the next level. He can throw the ball accurately in rhythm with anticipation. Consistently, Fields locates his passes well, placing them in position for his receiver to make the catch and then pick up additional yards. Fields has a quality arm and can push the ball vertically, but he does not fire fastballs unnecessarily, instead throwing a very catchable ball. With good feel as a passer, Fields lofts in touch passes and does not throw flat passes. He is an aggressive thrower who challenges defenses downfield. As a pro, he might need to use his check downs a bit more.

    Fields does a good job of protecting the football and avoiding interceptions. He makes good decisions, and with his ball location, he does not consistently give the defense opportunities to take the ball away. He does a nice job of moving his eyes while scrambling and being cognizant to look downfield for receivers uncovering. When he gets rattled by blitzes, he can drop his eyes, but for the most part, he does a respectable job of seeing the field while moving. Fields also throws accurately on the run.

    Fields reminds me of Deshaun Watson as a runner. Fields is very shifty with quick feet and is very elusive. He will juke and dodge defenders in embarrassing fashion with his burst to accelerate into space. On top of his feet and quickness, Fields has a sturdy build with strength to get a push in short-yardage situations. In the NFL, Fields won't be a runner like Lamar Jackson, but his mobility could be similar to that of Watson or Pat Mahomes.

    There are definitely some areas for improvement for Fields as a junior. He needs to improve his field vision. Considering 2019 was his first year as a starter, his field vision has a good starting point, but it still needs to improve for the NFL. Fields needs to speed up the process to work through his progressions faster and be quicker with reading coverage. He won't have as much time in the pocket in the NFL as he does at Ohio State. Fields can hold the ball too long sometimes and gets away with it because of the competition. Related to the vision, Fields needs to improve his knowledge of defenses and blitz recognition. He can have problems when facing heavy pressure and can get rattled by blitzes - see last season's Clemson game. NFL teams will blitz him heavily until he shows he can burn the blitz. With more experience, Fields could easily improve on all of these issues.

    Some team sources say Fields is built like a thicker Deshaun Watson, while others say he has a build like Dak Prescott. For the NFL, Fields has the skill set to be a good starter and a franchise quarterback with Pro Bowl potential.

    2021 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering the 2020 season, Fields looks like a franchise quarterback prospect for the NFL and a potential top-10 pick. He is in the running to be one of the top prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft.



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