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NFL Draft

Justin Fields Cements Himself As Top-3 QB At Pro Day

  • The Draft Network
  • March 30, 2021
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Following the 49ers’ trade up to No. 3 with the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco placed itself in a win-win scenario, expectedly landing either Zach Wilson or Justin Fields.

Whoever the New York Jets passed on would then make his way to the Bay to work under the tutelage of offensive guru Kyle Shanahan. However, as they often do this time of the year, things have changed… drastically.

Following multiple reports that 49ers general manager John Lynch and Shanahan have a “high interest” in taking Alabama quarterback Mac Jones or North Dakota State dual-threat talent Trey Lance third overall, only one can ponder how we got to this point.

It’s really mind-boggling, but let’s come back to earth and dive into why Fields, following an outstanding Pro Day, is the clear option at No. 3 for San Francisco. 

With collegiate concepts quickly making their way into the NFL at a record pace, Fields represents a quarterback who, like Josh Allen in Buffalo, can hurt you on every down with a powerful arm and elite mobility that allows him to run through, and around, opposing defenders. No, he isn’t Patrick Mahomes or Justin Herbert when focusing on arm talent, or constructed in the mold of Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray from an agility standpoint, but it’s his innate ability to showcase both to why he fits so seamlessly into the NFL game. 

Fields’ ceiling, arguably, is the highest of all quarterbacks in this class. Yes, higher than both Trevor Lawrence and Wilson. When you take into account the production, level of competition, and projectability of the 22-year-old, his numbers stack up with anyone in the class. 

Fields’ record was minimally blemished as a starter in Columbus, finishing with a 20-2 overall mark. The 2020 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Fields’ postseason encore included dominating the Lawrence-led Clemson Tigers, leading the Buckeyes to a 49-28 victory in the CFP semi-final matchup. A game highly touted as a matchup of future faces of NFL franchises, Fields put on a show, totaling a Sugar Bowl record with six passing touchdowns while recording Ohio State bowl records with 385 passing yards and 49 total points scored.

A two-time top-10 vote-getter in Heisman Trophy voting, Fields will thrive if placed in the right scenario at the next level. A system that mutually works in favor of Fields’ talents as both a passer and runner would eliminate the aura of “rookie struggles” due to failed adaptation to the NFL game. 

When you look at Fields as an athlete from the waist down, it flashes importance. The grace period for NFL rookies to get their bodies in shape for the professional level—no matter the position—is now gone. Fields’ 4.44 40-time on Tuesday was the fastest in a professional environment for a quarterback since Robert Griffin III’s 4.41 in 2012—pretty good company considering Griffin was an All-World track athlete who entered the NFL game with far less comparable attributes to the league's top passers than Fields. 

Fields, as a runner, is a terror in the open field. With an elite lower-half, he’s a pain to take down combined with the agility, power, and north-south speed he touts when creating beyond the line of scrimmage. At 227 pounds, Fields leaves room to grow, where many in the league believe he could add 5-10 pounds of muscle to burden the blow of bigger, stronger defenders on Sundays. 

Fields’ athletic profile Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said is just his “body of work.”

“Everyone wanted to see him for themselves… how the ball comes out live and how he can spin it. Today, Justin was himself, and that should be enough.”

For an ever-evolving game that is football at the NFL level, Fields, along with Lance, represent the modern style of versatile quarterbacks who will now enter an organization desperately trying to keep up with Kansas City in the de facto arms race as the most feared offense in the league.

Mechanical issues and accuracy have been a knock on Fields thus far in his evaluation process. No quarterback enters the draft without a concern around their name, especially one projected as a top-10 selection. However, Fields realizes it’s just part of the winding road to the NFL, and he’s ready to prove he’s worth the journey. 

“Teams will get a leader from me,” Fields told the Big Ten Network following Tuesday’s showcase. “I’m just an overall dedicated, passionate player that wants to be great.”

There’s nothing left to prove from Fields, who has cemented himself as a top-three quarterback in this class.

Don’t overthink it.

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