Is Ohio State football’s Justin Fields already a sure first-round NFL Draft pick? Buckeye Talk Text Q&A

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quarterbacks always rocket to the top of the NFL Draft, and Ohio State football’s Justin Fields is already considered a contender for the No. 1 overall spot in 2021.

Does he need a strong 2020 season to ensure that high first-round status? Does he need a 2020 season at all?

Similar questions are on the minds of many of our Buckeye Talk text subscribers. Sign up now for a 14-day free trial to get our breaking news reports and analysis right to your phone before anyone else. You can also participate in interactive features, such as voting in our Favorite Modern Football Buckeye bracket.

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Since no one else can travel right now, we’ll keep hopping around the country and visit Virginia’s 804 area code for today’s text subscriber question:

I want to play a bit of devil’s advocate with this question: Lets say Justin Fields has a mediocre/ sub- par season this upcoming year. Has Fields done enough in one season to make him a lock as a first-round pick, or could an average season bump him out?

Within reason, statistical production is less important than one might think for draft prospects. Fields already possess many of the attributes NFL scouts and general managers covet most. That won’t change between now and whenever he walks on stage in Cleveland in April 2021.

Physically, the onetime baseball prospect has a prototypical quarterback’s frame. If anything he seems even more solid than the 6-3, 228-pound roster listing would suggest. Fields is broad-shouldered and thick. He gets a lot of credit for playing with toughness, and while that’s warranted, he also dishes it out as well as he takes it from some opposing defenders.

The arm strength is legitimate, but not because NFL evaluators want to see Hail Mary bombs. Fields routinely impressed with his ability to hit tight sideline windows from the far hashes in 2019. He possesses a sophisticated array of throws in an offense where Ryan Day has incorporated pro elements and looks.

Perhaps most importantly Fields took all of the above in 2019 and packaged it into one of the nation’s most efficient seasons. He makes good decisions and doesn’t take unnecessary chances. His vision is advanced as both a thrower and a runner. We haven’t even discussed his legs yet, but Fields’ running ability should translate to escapability and unpredictability against NFL defenses.

So considering the offensive line expected to protect him and the roster of receivers from which OSU can assemble a rotation in 2020, it’s difficult to imagine a sub-par season that would tank Fields’ draft status.

Perhaps if that efficiency vanished and Fields became more interception-prone than his difficult-to-repeat 2019 ratio. On the other hand, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence opened last season with some giveaway issues and is widely considered to be right there with Fields in contention as the top QB off the board in 2021.

A better question might be whether the absence of college football at all in 2020 would be enough to derail Fields’ trajectory. Fields has only one season as a full-time starter, and only one season in which he began to show his capabilities as a passer. Right now he can’t even work out directly with Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis, though he does have access to a well-regarded private coach in Quincy Avery.

? Grading Justin Fields: How our postgame analysis undersold his 2019 excellence

Fields needs another year of competition to continue his development. (He might be the first to say it if Ryan Day doesn’t beat him to it.) Fields is a mature and intelligent athlete who will keep putting in the work regardless of quarantines and social distancing. However, not only can he show the NFL something with games at Oregon and Penn State and whatever else comes along, he can grow from those experiences as any third-year player would.

If Fields comes out after not playing at all in 2020, I suppose some teams could back off due to his relative lack of reps. Remember, though, a lot of the other draft prospects will essentially be in the same predicament. Most teams will go ahead and bet on Fields’ untapped athletic ceiling and intangibles.

Fields could also have a great year and still slip down the draft board. One of the best comparisons I’ve seen for him is Aaron Rodgers, based on size and skill set. The Cal star was expected to be a high first-round pick in 2005 and fell to Green Bay at 24th.

Things turned out fine for Rodgers, but I don’t see Fields needing to wait. Right now, few players are a safer first-round bets for next April.

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Is Ohio State football’s Justin Fields already a sure first-round NFL Draft pick? Buckeye Talk Text Q&A Is Ohio State football’s Justin Fields already a sure first-round NFL Draft pick? Buckeye Talk Text Q&A Reviewed by Admin on Rabu, April 01, 2020 Rating: 5

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