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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

2021 NFL DRAFT PROSPECT PREVIEW: JUSTIN FIELDS QB OHIO STATE

Heading into the 2020 season, there seemed little debate that Ohio State QB Justin Fields would be the locked-in number 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence.  Fast forward through the fall/winter college football season and that previously held premise is no longer etched in stone.  Now it does need to be mentioned that Ohio State had about as disjointed a season as a school could have given the Big Ten's late start and the fact the Buckeyes deal with some serious COVID issues throughout.  Perhaps that is the reason Fields ran hot and cold at times and thus, opened the door for BYU's Zach Wilson to stake his claim to the second ranked QB in the draft.  In terms of the positives, you would have a very tough time finding a quarterback who has as pronounced an athletic skill set as Fields who combines breathtaking speed/agility with above-average accuracy and a knack for throwing on the run.  Fields also showed unbelievable toughness and the knack for rising to the occasion when he tossed 6 touchdown passes in the CFP semifinals in beating Clemson after taking a vicious hit to the ribs early in the game.  There are some downsides that interested NFL teams need to consider however; with the most concerning being Fields' struggles going through his reads and being able to consistently make throws while facing the rush in the pocket and that is what we saw from him in the National Championship Game defeat against Alabama.  The latter is certainly a red flag as these were the same concerns that many had about Akili Smith and Robert Griffin III when those two pronounced NFL busts came out of college and struggles against Northwestern in the Big Ten championship only reaffirmed the matter.  Finally, there is the not so small matter that Ohio State historically has not produced any decent NFL passers; with fresh memories of the comical career to this point of Dwayne Haskins still fresh in the mind. That being said, Fields has drawn a lot of DeShaun Watson companions since 2019 began and that is not a bad place to be in terms of projections.  Whether or not he can get there makes Fields more of a risk now than he appeared to be the season prior.  

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