Rookie Rundown: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Rookie Rundown: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

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Rookie Rundown: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

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This year’s NFL draft eagerly awaits five quarterbacks that are projected to fall over the first ten picks. Justin Fields is most often third or fourth taken in almost every mock draft out there. The junior from Ohio State started as a much-coveted five-star recruit out of high school that offered a true dual threat. As a two-year starter, he totaled 4,187 passing yards and ran for 2,096 yards with a total of 69 touchdowns.

As a freshman at Georgia, he was the backup to Jake Fromm. He transferred to Ohio State the next year and became their starter. Fields was phenomenal in his first year there, throwing for 41 touchdowns and rushing for ten more. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The Buckeyes’ only loss was in the Fiesta Bowl to Clemson during the College Football Playoff semifinal.

Fields was a leading contender for the Heisman entering 2020 but the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shortened the season. The Buckeyes started playing in late October and went undefeated in the regular season. During the College Football Playoffs, Fields led the team to a win over Clemson and then advanced to the National Championship game where they lost to Alabama. Fields was injured during the win over Alabama but continued to play. He was again selected as the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year. He declared for the draft instead of returning for his final year of eligibility.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 228 pounds
40 time: 4.43 seconds

He is an exceptional athlete that also excelled as a baseball player in high school. NFL offenses are evolving to make use of dual-threat quarterbacks and Fields was as dangerous when he ran as when he passed. His ability to move the pocket and throw on the run will fit nicely into pro-style offenses.

Unlike many college quarterbacks that can throw and run, Fields is a passer first and foremost and his rushing merely makes him even more dangerous. This is not a miscast running back that can throw deep.

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State stats

Year Games Runs Yards TD Pass Comp. Yards Avg. TD Int QBR
2018* 12 42 266 4 39 27 328 8.4 4 0 173.7
2019 14 137 484 10 354 238 3273 9.2 41 3 181.4
2020 8 81 383 5 225 158 2100 9.3 22 6 175.6

Pros

  • Never lost a game as a starter other than in the playoffs
  • Big frame that can withstand hits
  • Faster than most running backs despite his size
  • Forces defenses to respect his run
  • Moves well laterally to avoid rush
  • Tough competitor that never quits
  • Poised in pocket
  • Great fit for RPO plays on West Coast offenses
  • Accurate on the move and standing tall
  • Physical rusher that will get the short yards
  • Extensive work out of the shotgun
  • Polished and consistent footwork

Cons

  • Still has room to grow as a passer
  • Only average vision for downfield targets
  • Needs better anticipation for where receivers will be
  • Receivers sometimes slow down to catch deep throws
  • Can hold the ball too long

Fantasy outlook

Fields said that he modeled his game after the smaller and slower Russell Wilson. He’s was a proven winner at Ohio State and led them to the National Championship game. His downside – whatever that actually ends up being – is that he was inconsistent last year when he passed. Wilson fell in the draft because he was smaller at 5-11 and 215 pounds. Fields enters the NFL with similar attributes only bigger and faster.

While Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are locks as the first two picks, there is less certainty as to when Fields, Trey Lance and even Mac Jones will exactly go other than all are likely Top-10 picks.

Barring trades (which are always possible), Fields will be considered by the 49ers, Falcons, and Panthers. There is also a chance that a team like the Patriots could move up to access a top quarterback.

Fields rookie value depends on whether he ends up on a team like the Falcons where he could “season” for a year, or to a team that will press him into duty as a rookie. His rushing ability will help his fantasy value and make him a starting consideration. While there are some concerns about the consistency of his passing, Fields is very much in the mold of a current-day NFL quarterback. He’ll offer fantasy value in any game that he starts, even as a rookie.

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