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How is the NFL Draft shaping up for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields?

It’s time to stop doubting Justin Fields

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It’s that time of year. With the 2021 NFL Draft taking place next month, people are starting to overthink things. The latest to do so is former NFL quarterback, and current NFL analyst, Chris Simms, who has Ohio State’s Justin Fields fourth in his quarterback rankings. While it hasn’t been uncommon to see Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, and Mac Jones ahead of Fields, the most surprising quarterback that Simms prefers over Fields is Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond.

Apparently Simms values the accuracy and mechanics of Mond over Fields, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you think back to the first three games of the season when Fields had just as many touchdown passes as incompletions. The transfer from Georgia did struggle a little later in the season against Northwestern, when not only was Fields down a number of receivers and offensive linemen, but also suffered a hand injury in the game.

Fields also struggled in the national title game against Alabama, completing 17 of 33 passes. The Buckeye quarterback wasn’t helped when running back Trey Sermon was injured on his first carry, making Ohio State more of a one-dimensional team, which allowed the Crimson Tide to pin their ears back and pressure Fields. We all saw what Fields was able to do with a healthy Sermon, as he only misfired on six passes against Clemson.

What is hurting Fields is how the quarterback he replaced has performed in the NFL. Dwayne Haskins was thrown into a terrible situation with the Washington Football Team, ultimately getting released after it became apparent that he wasn’t the preferred quarterback of new head coach Ron Rivera.

Haskins and Fields both thrived in a single-read offense at Ohio State. While both quarterbacks looked great in Ryan Day’s offense, things aren’t quite so easy in the NFL. That’s not to say that Fields can’t be a very successful quarterback at the next level. It also doesn’t help that many who are critical of Fields heading into the draft might not have watched as much of the tape on him as they want you to believe.

While Fields definitely did hit a lot of his first reads at or near the line of scrimmage, he was a little more patient in scanning the field on deeper throws. There’s no question that Fields has a tremendous arm. Ohio State just didn’t call on him to display it as much as some of the other quarterback prospects did. Even though these numbers may not be official, as Twitter user @OSUFAN4U2NV says she saw this posted by “someone a while back”, it certainly seems pretty accurate after watching Ohio State’s offense this year.

Not trying to slight what Kellen Mond was able to accomplish at Texas A&M, as he was a sold starter for four years in College Station, but it’s just hard to imagine him being a better quarterback than Justin Fields. Mond didn’t complete more than 64% of his passes in any year, so to say Mond is more accurate than Fields is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Aggies may have run a little more complex offense than Ohio State, but if you put Fields in Mond’s place at Texas A&M, you’d likely see a better offense from the Aggies.

So where might Fields land?

Even though the rankings from Simms have Mond ahead of Fields, you likely won’t see the Texas A&M quarterback taken ahead of Fields. Nathan Baird of Cleveland.com looked at a number of mock drafts from the biggest football sites and analysts around the country. The consensus seems that it’s unlikely that Fields falls out of the top-10.

A lot will hinge on what Miami does with the third pick in the draft. Some think DeShaun Watson heads to Miami, with the Texans taking Fields with Miami’s third pick to replace Watson. Another scenario is John Elway moving the Broncos up to third to tab Fields as Denver’s next franchise quarterback. Carolina is looked as a possible destination for Fields, with the Panthers either trading up to three, or taking him at eight if he falls that far.

The best situations for Fields looks like it would be if Atlanta drafts Fields with the fourth pick. Not only would Fields get a little more time to develop, as the Falcons have Matt Ryan at quarterback now. Fields would also get to work with wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Add in the fact that Fields is from Georgia, it would give Fields a layer of comfort with the Falcons.

Past years haven’t been kind to Ohio State quarterbacks moving on to the NFL. While some are skeptical of what Fields can bring to the table, he looked like the real deal at Ohio State. With the right situation and coaching, Fields could be a great quarterback in the NFL. If there was any quarterback who could buck the trend of Ohio State quarterbacks at the next level, it is Justin Fields.