Scouting Report: QB Justin Fields 6’3” 227 (Ohio State) Ran a reported 4.51 (40)
Justin Fields is a franchise dual-threat quarterback with an accurate and strong arm. Pro-ready. Right-handed. Competitive, determined, and confident looking in his eyes. Smooth playmaker. Impressive. Fields played on the National Championship runner-up team this past season.
I knew in the first two minutes of watching his game film in week one of the 2020 season Fields was by far and away a dramatically better and more pro-ready quarterback than Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson.
There is no comparison. It is not even close. I can not say enough good things about Justin Fields,. Despite throwing for less yardage and about half the number touchdowns in 2020 vs. 2019, threw 129 less pass attempts in 2020, which did not affect his team’s overall success still making it to the National Championship game. All three seasons his QB rating was around the same level — and all three seasons his avg. per completion was about the same (which tells me he is a consistent performer).
Primarily ran his offense out of the shotgun formation, but easily transitioned under center when it was called for.
Looks pretty dropping back and setting up shop in the pocket.
Excellent play-action ball handling skills. Can and does fool the camera man at times. Defenses must honor and commit to option possibilities.
The thing I like about him best in the pocket, is his patience, intelligence and his athleticism.
The thing I like least about Fields in the pocket is his feel for the rush when he does not see it coming. Excellent evading the rush, but only if he sees it. Otherwise, he is a sitting duck because he is so focused downfield. Takes a lot of sacks. He also does not throw the ball away as much to avoid sacks. Fields sits in the pocket, surveys his targets and goes through his progressions with calmness. Does not tend to lock in. Also shows he can make the quick decision and throw in certain situations. I also like how he uses pump fakes to hold safeties and then choose his throw.
Fields a legitimate threat to take off and run every time he steps up in the pocket and every time he rolls out in either direction.
He is not Houdini, Randall Cunningham or Michael Vick, but he can slide around, elude the rush and buy some time in the pocket as well if he sees it coming. Creates a real issue for defenses because of his abilities as a dual-threat player.
Fields has a good arm. It’s not a Dan Marino, John Elway or Jeff George arm by any means. However, he does have an NFL-caliber arm. Can either zip it in and put heat on the ball or let the gas off and lob it in there with touch. Can throw it on a clothes’ line. Pretty long ball with tight spin. Throws a pretty looking ball at every route level, period.
Nice arch and landings. Accurate on the move. The thing I love most of all is his ball placement — puts the ball in very “receiver friendly,” spots. Tends to put the ball only where the intended targets can make the grab and on deeper passes, often put it out in front where the intended target can just keep on running after making the catch.
Phenomenal ball placement overall. I believe out of the quarterbacks out there in the first couple rounds, Fields is the most pro-ready quarterback from day-one.
I watched every throw and run of his in 2020 on film. I believe he has a great chance of being able to turn around a team with a losing record in 2020 and cause them to become a team with a winning record in his rookie season. I believe that because being a legitimate dual-threat quarterback, he will be able to create opportunities for his offense and offensive deficiencies around him. He will be able to make something out of nothing. His athleticism is also best suited to buy time from the rush to cover up for any blocking deficiencies along the line. He can make all the throws, he protects the ball well and he makes overall smart decisions which will give his team the best chance to win.
He is polished and he can run well when things break down, which undoubtedly they will on the team he goes to. Even with a new center against Michigan State and several errant snaps when things broke down — Fields maintained his composure and did not miss a beat. Many times while watching him, I found myself literally saying, “Wow,” out loud. He is the real deal. He is a dynamic player with an inner strength who can lead.
It would not shock me to see the team who drafts him get into the playoffs his rookie season.
He has the best chance of doing that out of all the prospects in this draft. Fields is that good. He does a lot of the little things really well too. Plays beyond his years. If I am the GM of the Jaguars, I am sending the card #1 overall with the name Justin Fields written on it. He is Kyler Murray, only instead of being 5’10” he is 6’3.”
Daniel Kelly’s Draft Board: First overall, First-Round Probability of being a bust: Extremely low
If I were a GM, this is the question I need to be answered in my mind about Fields:
What drives him?
My top five concerns:
1. Fields threw 129 fewer pass attempts in 2020 vs. 2019 and also about half as many touchdowns (41 in 2019, but only 22 in 2020), I would need to know why. His team still won and he led the way, but I would need to know the explanation behind the drop off in the stats.
2. Coming out of high school, Fields withdrew his commitment to Penn State to go to Georgia. Then Fields transferred to Ohio State after Georgia lost to Alabama in the 2018 SEC Championship game. His lack of commitment concerns me.
3. He is not coming in with a huge chip on his shoulder (the thing that propels greatness). Came from a broken home, but his dad made sure his son had support.
4. His dad was a linebacker at Eastern Kentucky, but he failed to make it into the NFL and joined the police department. I would want to know the reason his dad did not make it in the NFL. I want to know that story. Is it Justin’s dream or his dad’s dream for Justin to play in the NFL?
5. He takes a lot of sacks (27 in 2019, 21 in 2020 per espn.com). My concern is how many long-yardage situations he put his team in as a result and also can his body hold up to that level of punishment.
How NFL defenses will beat Justin Fields: Super aggressive game plan. Send constant blind-side linebacker, safety and corner blitzes. He does not see them or feel them. Does not have “eyes in the back of his head.” Send a lot of pressure, period. Does not tend to throw the ball away in pressure situations, so he can be backed into long yardage situations. You can not let him just sit in the pocket and pick the defense apart, because he will. Get as much heat on him as possible (see Rutgers and Indiana 2020, sacked 13 times in first five games).
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.