Today we are looking at Justin Fields, Ohio State’s talented quarterback who led them to the National Championship Game and was a Heisman Trophy finalist this season. Fields was a Big Ten champion and was named first team All-Big Ten in both 2019 and 2020. He stands at 6’3″ 227 lbs. Fields declared for the 2021 NFL Draft today.
Strengths: Fields possesses high-level arm talent. He has a quick release with good zip, and his arm strength allows him to make all the throws. On deep balls, he effortlessly drives the ball downfield. Fields can even alter arm angles to throw off-schedule. He is very accurate throwing to all three levels of the field and throws with good anticipation too, leading receivers to yards after the catch. He is accurate throwing on the move to his right and left, which combined with his athleticism gives him a dynamic ability to extend and create plays. Fields is a tough, athletic runner who can easily pick up chunks with his legs when the play breaks down, showcasing top-notch escape ability. Between his arm talent, accuracy throwing on the run, and running ability, Fields is a natural playmaker. Even within the pocket, Fields possesses very good mobility that allows him to climb the ladder or sidestep before delivering the ball when he senses pressure. He flashes this ability to keep his eyes downfield against pressure, he stands tall, and he makes the throw. Fields is adept at layering the ball over second level defenders and before third level defenders. He is also very talented in the RPO game. Fields clearly has a very good command of the offense and is a leader on the field. Against Clemson in the Rose Bowl, not only did Fields play extremely well, but he showed incredible toughness, competitiveness, and heart by playing through the very hard hit he sustained in the first half, which still bothered him in the National Championship Game. Given the caliber of games he has played in at Ohio State, Fields is experienced against top competition and very battle-tested.
Weaknesses: Fields can struggle with blitz recognition and sensing pressure, freezing up, holding the ball too long, taking bad sacks, or making an ill-advised throw in these situations at times. His field vision has also caused him issues in the past, as his ability to read defenses is still evolving. Fields has some footwork issues at times, especially when he has to reset in the pocket, which can lead to inconsistent ball placement. Additionally, Fields needs to keep working on moving off his first read and going through his progressions. This improved over the course of the season, but he does still stare his first target down at times.
Bottom Line: Fields is a natural playmaker, showcasing top-notch arm talent, accuracy, anticipation, escape ability, and running ability. What makes me confident in projecting Fields as a franchise quarterback at the next level is that while his weaknesses did resurface in 2020 against Indiana and Northwestern, in other games he showed significant improvement in those regards, including on the biggest stage in the College Football Playoff. Fields has all the natural physical and athletic traits you want, high-level accuracy, a lot of experience against top competition on the biggest stages, and has shown noticeable improvement with his weaknesses, leading me to believe he will be a successful playmaking quarterback for years to come in the NFL, provided he lands in a healthy situation to develop.
Grade: 1.2 (indicative of an early first round grade)
Draft Projection: Top 5
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