Prospect Profile: QB Justin Fields
Jake Pittman - 3/10/2021
Prospect Profile: QB Justin Fields
Justin Fields is a 6’3" 227-pound quarterback from Ohio State University. Everyone who has been following college football over the past couple of years knows who Justin Fields is. Fields originally committed to the University of Georgia, but after Georgia chose to go with Jake Fromm as their starting QB, Fields decided that it was in his best interest to transfer elsewhere. Fields ended up as a Buckeye and had a very successful career there. He was a Heisman Finalist and put up video game type numbers on multiple occasions. Fields is projected to be a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft and his passing and rushing ability should make him a very interesting player for NFL scouts and fantasy managers alike.
Justin Fields is a big play waiting to happen. He can make plays with his arm and plays with his feet. He is very athletic for a QB and can make defenders miss in a variety of ways. He has a natural ability to move the ball down the field, and college teams never found a way to stop him. Fields loves to run around in the pocket and wait for things to develop. This used to be a red flag for NFL teams, but with QBs like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen emerging as top players in this league, this tendency is no longer looked upon in such a negative light. Justin Fields has always been towards the top of his class at every level of the game. He was the #1 QB recruit coming out of high school, a Heisman contender in college, and now projects to be one of the top QBs drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft. He just has that natural ability to compete and win at every level he has been at. I think that this successful track record, natural playmaking ability, and dual-threat skillset is something that should help him adjust to the NFL.
Despite Fields’ pedigree and impressive resume, he is certainly not a perfect prospect. Concerns about his arm-strength, accuracy in short and intermediate passes, and footwork are issues I have seen when watching his tape. He has the tendency to throw at awkward angles and strange foot placements. While we have seen players like Patrick Mahomes succeed while doing this in the NFL, not every player has that type of natural arm strength. This issue has led Fields to miss some routine throws that NFL QBs shouldn’t miss. I think his footwork issues are the root of a lot of his issues, and luckily footwork can be fixed by NFL QB Coaches. What can’t be fixed is his arm strength. He doesn’t have the weakest arm, and it’s not something that is going to cause scouts to take them off of their board, but it will cause him to drop behind other QBs in this year’s draft. Fields can get the ball down the field on deep balls, and he has solid deep ball accuracy, but it’s the velocity that the ball has coming out of his hands that concerns me. Most top-level NFL QBs release the ball and it zips out to the receiver with a very high velocity. This is what allows players to throw quick out routes or corner routes without the defender having time to undercut it, Fields doesn’t zip the ball out in the same way.
Despite some of these concerns, Fields is natural winner. He can make plays all over the field, and when the game is on the line he can be trusted with the ball in his hands. QBs who have a natural savvy for the game are hard to come by, and his skillset combined with his dual-threat ability will make him a guy that some teams just won’t be able to pass up on.
Justin Fields career to this point and play style remind me so much of Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson. They were both highly recruited players out of high school and play making superstars at the college level. They both led blue blood programs, Ohio State and Clemson, to incredibly successful seasons and made plays with both their arms and their legs. They both seem to have that natural winning instinct built in with their outstanding athleticism for the QB position. While Watson has flourished in the NFL, he had the same concerns about his footwork and arm strength before entering the league. Teams worried that his strange footwork and throwing angles, but he has obviously proved all of his doubters wrong. Fields is in no way guaranteed to become the same type of player that Watson has become, but he shows a lot of similarities to the former Clemson star. Some team is going to take Fields in the first round, just like how Watson was taken in the first round by the Houston Texans, and maybe this team can strike gold in the same way.
Most Likely Landing Spots:
New York Jets:
I will not even be writing about the Jacksonville Jaguars because they certainly going to be drafting Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence first overall in this year’s draft. The second overall pick however, belongs to the New York Jets. The New York Jets took QB Sam Darnold third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he has done little to impress during his time in New York. Many analysts and scouts around the league believe that the Jets are planning to move on from Darnold this offseason, and that puts them right back into contention for selecting a QB in the first round again. Many mock drafts project that the Jets will select BYU QB Zach Wilson with the second overall pick, but that is nowhere near a lock. You could also see the Jets trade back a few picks and still land Fields, while also compiling some picks, if he is the guy they want. If Fields were to land in New York, his rookie year fantasy production would be tough to trust. The Jets don’t have a ton of weapons around him, and I would project them to still be in rebuilding mode for the next couple of years. He could also start his career on the bench behind Joe Flacco as he learns the offense and how to adjust to the speed of the game. In Fantasy, I wouldn’t draft him in any fantasy drafts, but if he does emerge as the starter, he could be an interesting streaming option in plus matchups.
Panther’s Head Coach Matt Rhule doesn’t seem to believe that Teddy Bridgewater is the long-term answer for the team at the QB position. I worked with Rhule during his time at Baylor, and he was very outspoken when he say who the starting QB is for the team, and he has not been that way when talking about Bridgewater. There have been rumors about the Panthers trading up in the draft to grab Zach Wilson, but if they stay back at pick eight, they may end up taking Justin Fields. If Fields were to end up in Carolina, he would be a very intriguing option for fantasy players. The fact that he would have Christian McCaffery next to him in the backfield would guarantee at least a baseline of production, and if he takes big steps forward in the NFL as a passer, he could be another rookie sensation for fantasy players. I wouldn’t draft him with any type of high value pick, but he could be a waiver wire sensation like last year’s Rookie of the Year QB Justin Herbert.
San Francisco 49ers:
Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers don’t seem to have any faith in QB Jimmy Garappolo to be the franchise quarter back. I fully expect the 49ers to select a QB in the first round of the draft. Currently, they sit at pick 12 in the first round. I wouldn’t expect Fields to fall to 12, but there is certainly a chance that he will. The other options for the 49ers would be to trade up, most likely above the Panthers, to select Fields. The most likely outcome in my mind is that the 49ers sit back and draft North Dakota State QB Trey Lance with the 12th overall pick, but there is still a significant chance that they end up with Fields. If Fields were to land in San Francisco, I think he would immediately become a streaming option for fantasy managers. With weapons like TE George Kittle, WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, along with RB Raheem Mostert, he would have plenty of options to help him put up solid stat lines. His dual-threat ability would also give him a solid baseline of rushing yardage in this offense. I wouldn’t draft him in fantasy drafts since there are so many other options, but he would definitely be someone to keep an eye on.
Justin Fields is a winner and a playmaker. He is the type of guy to make the players around him better, and an NFL Team is definitely going to take a shot on him in the first round. Despite his concerns as a passer, his rushing and playmaking capabilities should make him an interesting fantasy option if he wins a starting job next season. If he ends up in the right spot and has a QB coach to help him with his footwork, he has the chance to become this year’s fantasy waiver-wire diamond.
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