2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Justin Fieldsby Brady Podloski February 11, 2021 8 comments
Late towards the NCAA season, Justin Fields’ stock took a hit after a bad performance against Northwestern, but he was without one of his top options in Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. After throwing six touchdowns against a good Clemson defense, Fields’ stock went up like Gamestop, only for it to become stagnant against the Alabama defense in the National Championship game. Overall Fields’ up and down play against top competition is something to keep in mind when evaluating.
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Name: Justin Fields
School: Ohio State
Weight: 225 lbs
Accuracy is a tough thing to quantify as Fields has nice down-field touch but can struggle on some simple throws when faced with pressure. Fields is accurate with the football most times, but it can get away from him in situations. The fact remains when times are tough and he needs to make a play, he has deadly fastball accuracy.
Arm Strength (9/10)
The young man can get the ball down the field with velocity. He also has the power to arc the ball and gives it more touch. There are no concerns with his arm and he will be able to hit on throws on all levels of the field.
Decision Making (8/10)
This isn’t as high as progressions as sometimes Fields doesn’t decide what to do quick enough. It could be a lack of trust issue or an experience one. But this is something he can get better at. Also, sometimes Fields is overconfident in his ability to sling a ball in a tight window and would be better served to check it down.
The progression and reading of the field are better than I thought they would be. He’s quick to understand defensive coverage which allows him to lock onto the best target. This will serve him well in a run-pass-option offense where he can make several quick decisions in the span of a few seconds. Has shown the ability to manipulate corners and safeties with his eyes.
Very rarely do we see Fields lead a throw that isn’t downfield. Moreover, we see Fields second guess himself on throws that aren’t open. This is the trait that we have to see development upon for him to become an elite player.
In the red zone, Fields may rack up touchdowns, he’s a part of the new group of dual-threat quarterbacks. His rushing ability will allow offenses to run option plays and bring a new dynamic to any offense.
Play Outside of Structure (9.5/10)
This is where Fields excels and should be his forte early on in his career. When the play breaks down he’s able to make a play with quick diagnosis, and his mobility. This is one of his best abilities and is going to separate himself from other quarterbacks in the league.
Pocket Awareness (6.5/10)
By far his worst trait, and is something that consistently came up game after game when protection broke down. Fields can maneuver the pocket, but the feel for it is not there. Moreover, he holds the ball for too long. Early on expect Fields to take a lot of sacks, even with a good offensive line.
Fields has a calm demeanor, and it has a noticeable effect in big games where his presence in the huddle allows his teams to breathe. Poise for me also includes clutchness which might be Fields’ best trait, when his team needs a play, he’ll make one.
Good base when he throws, allowing him to get good velocity on the ball. Feet seem to be the biggest difference in poor to great throws. Can get happy feet when pressured and when he overthrows or sails the ball he is flat-footed. Overall it’s not a concern and something that he can improve. Compared to other prospects it isn’t something that stands out.
Competitive Toughness (5/5)
It’s important not to evaluate one trait based on one game, but Fields is tough and willing to lay it all on the line. It shows big downs when he’s willing to take a hit for the first down, compared to sliding down.
Nagging injuries have somewhat been a part of Fields NCAA career, as he suffered a back injury and knee injury last year. If he’s going to be a part of a rushing offense, he will need to continues to slide and not take hits. Overall, it is not a concern.
Fields is a polarizing prospect, as the narrative about past Ohio State quarterbacks (Dwayne Haskins, J.T. Barrett, and Cardale Jones) gives an easy (and lazy) avenue to criticize him. Going beyond the ‘helmet scouting’, Fields has the traits and potential of an elite franchise quarterback and will give the team that drafts him a chance to win every game. Fields ultimately has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the class.
However, the worrying late throws and sometimes awkward decision making, which should get better with experience, give him a low floor. The rushing ability and play outside of structure provide him a lower margin for error, meaning broken plays can be large gains. When the game is on the line or your team needs to convert a third down or just a momentum boost, he’s simply the one to make it happen. Fields is the guy you want in during a game-winning drive.
Final Grade (86.75/100): Top Five Pick
Player Comp: Deshaun Watson