Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields “checks all the boxes” ahead of the upcoming NFL draft, his college coach Ryan Day said.
What makes Day so confident in Fields as a potential franchise player?
“When you look at the way he competes on the field, that speaks for itself,” Day said. “Not only his ability to throw the ball, but his size, his ability to make plays. He’s a winner. He’s tough. He’s really smart. He picks things up really quickly.”
As a junior last season, Fields led the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season and the national championship game, where they lost, 52-24, to Alabama.
In eight games — the season was abridged because of the coronavirus — Fields threw for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns, with a completion rate of 70.2 percent. He also rushed for 383 yards and five scores. He earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors.
As a sophomore the year before, after transferring to Ohio State following a season at Georgia, Fields had no problem filling out the stat sheet. He threw for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns, with a completion rate of 67.2 percent, and added 484 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
He became the first quarterback in Big Ten history to log at least 40 passing and 10 rushing touchdowns in a season. His touchdown-to-interception ratio (41-3) was also the best in the country that year.
At 6 feet 3 inches and 228 pounds, Fields boasts tremendous athletic ability, arm strength, and mobility. He’s a clear dual-threat option who can leverage his physicality as a runner and throw the ball deep with accuracy.
“He’s very, very competitive,” Day said. “When you combine the talent, the size, the arm strength, his competitiveness, his toughness, his intelligence, it kind of checks all the boxes. If you were trying to design a quarterback, to me, Justin fits that prototype.”
With the 15th pick, the Patriots probably would have to trade up if they want a shot at Fields, who is one of five quarterbacks projected to go in the first round. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah recently said he’s heard New England is “really high” on Fields.
“I think someone’s going to take a shot at him here early in the draft and they’re going to have a franchise quarterback for a long time,” Day said.
The Patriots sent front office consultant Eliot Wolf to Ohio State’s Pro Day Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, where Fields ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.44 seconds. Over the last 15 years of scouting combine results, the only first-round quarterback prospect to record a faster time was Robert Griffin III, who ran a 4.41 in 2012.
Wherever Field ends up, Day noted that there is plenty of room for growth.
“Whatever they teach in terms of a scheme, he’s going to pick that up very, very quickly,” Day said. “He hasn’t played four or five years of college football, so the good news is that he’s got a really, really high ceiling.
“Whoever drafts him, if they have a really good plan for him for continually developing him, the sky’s the limit for Justin Fields, and I don’t think anyone can argue that.”
Come Day 1 of the draft, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is expected to go No. 1 overall and BYU’s Zach Wilson will likely follow at No. 2. With the 49ers recently trading up to No. 3, Fields, Alabama’s Mac Jones, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance all are possibilities to go next.
“I know this,” Day said. “Everything you invest in that kid, you’re going to get back. It’s just a matter of the fit.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.