Justin Fields NFL Draft 2021 Prospect Profile: Don’t Let Narrative Cloud Elite Upside
This is The Game Day’s Justin Fields NFL Draft Prospect Profile. After you read our Justin Fields Draft Prospect Scouting Report, Marcus Mosher’s first 2021 NFL Mock Draft for Round 1 and see where Fields is predicted to be selected.
Justin Fields NFL Draft Prospect Profile
Justin Fields: Measurables
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 228 lbs
- Class in Final Season: True Junior
Justin Fields: Scouting Report
Justin Fields was as highly coveted as Trevor Lawrence coming out of high school. In fact, he was ranked higher on ESPN’s prospects list — people forget that.
Not that this makes him better than Lawrence or that these rankings mean *too* much, but Fields has had extraordinary talent for years.
Aside from the pedigree, Fields displayed his talents across two seasons as the unencumbered starter at Ohio State University. The numbers speak for themselves: He completed nearly 70% of his passes throughout college and threw just 9 interceptions on 618 attempts (1.5 INT%), according to Pro Football Reference.
Everything is just absurd. It is hard to find fault in his surface numbers as a full-time starter.
The dip in adjusted yards-per-attempt and rating could be attributed to starting play in late October and only being slightly off-sync with his team. Otherwise, that’s a season most QBs would kill for.
Fields’ best trait as a thrower is his mix of touch and downfield accuracy. It’s difficult to quantify, but when he throws the ball deep, there is something of an adjustable amount of velocity he lays into each pass.
He doesn’t have the bullet-pass ability of Trevor Lawrence to play the middle of the field similarly, but when necessary, he is capable of making tight-window throws.
We've all seen it 100 times now but it's hard to overstate how absurd this throw from Justin Fields is. pic.twitter.com/knYqIBKC4w
— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) January 28, 2021
It takes a lot of nit-picking to find faults in Fields as a prospect. His athleticism and arm are made for the league.
While at Ohio State, Fields was an electric QB most of the time but did struggle in multiple games this past season, specifically against Indiana and Northwestern. Between these two games, he threw five interceptions and scored just three total TDs (passing+rushing).
To be fair, out of 127 FBS teams Northwestern ranked 5th and Indiana 20th in opponent points per game. Not scrub defenses, but an NFL QB cannot have excuses consistently made.
His mediocre performance in the National Title game can very much so be attributed to the rib injury he suffered versus Clemson in the Semifinal.
Justin Fields looks like he's staring at his receiver and late on so many throws because Ohio State runs so many damn WR-read routes and he has to wait for them to make a decision, sometimes 15 yards down the field.
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) January 29, 2021
Playing at Ohio State is a commonly direct attack at Fields as well, but you have to scout the player and not the helmet. He far exceeded the level of play displayed from Dwayne Haskins, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, and any other Buckeye QB in recent history that is often unfairly pointed to as a “Con” for Fields.
Barrett was a run-first QB who played well during his extended stay at OSU but was never really much of a prospect. Jones came out of NOWHERE and led the Buckeyes to a national title but was a flash-in-the-pan whose stock dipped in his final season.
Recency bias leads plenty to critique Fields based on Haskins’ failures in the NFL but these are two entirely different QBs. Haskins is athletic but immobile and relied on timing/rhythm as a pocket passer in college to succeed. While he was extremely accurate and threw for 50 TDs, a lot of that could be attributed to the system and talent around him which required him to stand back in the pocket and just land the ball in the hands of his playmakers/now NFL studs Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, and J.K. Dobbins.
Transferring schools is the biggest perceived knock. ‘If he was so good, why couldn’t he beat out Jake Fromm?’
This phrase is thrown around often and it is a valid criticism for any prospect to have to transfer. Fromm was a rising star QB at the college level who had proven himself on gameday for two years. While the upside was in making the switch to Fields, the decision was to play things safe with the known commodity.
Why should Fields be forced to sit through that for another year and wait his turn when the clock was ticking on his college career? He was not some slapstick prospect you can keep in the wings.
Also, we do not know the inner workings of every locker room and maybe there was more to this story stemming from a philosophical dispute with coaches.
Fields was a superstar out of high school, and Kirby Smart might have wanted to put reins on him to stick with more fundamental football in a pro-style QB like Fromm.
3 years later, #Georgia HC Kirby Smart was asked about signing Justin Fields and what happened with Jake Fromm by @rivalsmike, in video and Kirby's answer was interesting … https://t.co/jnZSzgbnKP pic.twitter.com/hy7sNRBhKj
— DawgNation (@DawgNation) February 3, 2021
The Georgia Bulldogs have been notoriously conservative and run-heavy over the past decade, cultivating some of the NFL’s most productive running backs. The combo of a strong run game and strong defense has defined Georgia football, and while Fields surely would have bolstered this, it was not necessary given the heights Georgia had reached (in their eyes).
Justin Fields NFL Outlook
Justin Fields is a ready-made NFL starter. How productive he is will vary based on the team environment, but that will only be as a cap to his tremendous upside.
Fields has the arm to make every throw along with the athleticism to work behind a broken offensive line and create plays that aren’t readily available.
He is not a perfect prospect given that are some noted struggles, but those are few-and-far-between.
As long as he stays healthy, there is “best QB in the league” upside for Fields. How long that takes to come to fruition may depend on Patrick Mahomes‘ health/longevity, but even so, they could be within nearby tiers.
Justin Fields NFL Comp
Deshaun Watson (a filled-out version): This by no means suggests that Fields is better — just that they have similar builds and play styles. Fields weighs about 10 pounds more than Watson at the same reported height.
They are both in similar pre-draft spots, as well. Similar to what happened with Watson in many draft analyst circles, Fields’ stock is falling due to weird narratives that come out surrounding him — rather than focusing on what he accomplished on the field against the best competition.
Fields and Watson are both big, fast, athletic QBs with accurate cannons for arms. The way that Fields navigates a pocket and takes off if necessary is eerily familiar.
Neither does it as his immediate reaction if the first read is unavailable. They both scan the field, make the proper assessments, then take off if need be, creating chunk yardage and often finding the end zone.
Both make throws with incredible touch and accuracy while putting their receivers in positions to win rather than forcing it on them to react and adjust.
Justin Fields NFL Team Fits
There is no such thing as a bad fit for Fields. He is a plug-and-play QB who can start on Day 1 and take the licks this league has to offer.
Justin Fields NFL Draft Prediction
Round 1, Pick 2 overall: Fields is no worse than the second-best prospect in this class. The No. 1 overall pick is going to be Lawrence because of his flawless surface profile, but Fields could be a better pro, and it would not be shocking.
The media is making every excuse to read their mock drafts that have Fields falling to the double-digit picks, but it is insane to consider him anything but a top-5 pick in this class despite the talent.
While the wonder and mystique of Trey Lance is exciting and the numbers produced by Zach Wilson are hard to deny, Fields has the pedigree and did his work at the highest level of college football against the best competition.
The Jets hold the No. 2 pick at the moment and could select their next franchise QB, but they could trade it to Houston for Watson.
If the Texans have a modicum of competence left in that organization, they will select Fields with the second-overall pick. Still would not bet it, though. Never assume rationality in sports.
Justin Fields NFL Draft Bet(s)
Fields is +800 on BetMGM to go first-overall, while Trevor Lawrence is -3000. While the Urban Meyer/OSU connection is fun to imagine for the Jacksonville Jaguars, it isn’t realistic given that it is basically a foregone conclusion that Lawrence will go first.
Now that you’ve read our Justin Fields Draft Prospect scouting report, stay tuned after the 2021 NFL Draft for his impact on betting lines, odds and tips for his likely NFL team.
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