The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a quarterback in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current quarterback depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.
Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect at the most important position in the game.
Of the top quarterbacks entering the draft, you have to think one of these play callers could fall to the latter portions of the first round. One quarterback who has a stock which fluctuates like the stock market is Ohio State product Justin Fields.
Fields put his toughness and heart on full display during the college football playoffs, but many question him as a complete quarterback, his ability to adjust to the NFL game and there is the constant stigma of Ohio State quarterbacks floundering at the professional level.
Some view Fields as a Top 5 pick, while some see him falling to a team like the Steelers at pick No. 24. This made me wonder if Fields is the type of quarterback the Steelers just couldn’t pass on if he were to fall that far in the draft.
I did some digging on Fields, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Fields. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Fields in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
(Editor’s Note: Next week I plan on diving into the running backs in the upcoming draft, so if there is a quarterback who hasn’t been covered yet, let me know and I’ll do that profile for Friday.)
Justin Fields projects as a franchise quarterback at the NFL level — he offers the blend of throwing ability, athleticism, stature and clutch play that will cause NFL teams to fall in love with his evaluation, even if his 2020 campaign showed some cracks in his play. Fields’ ability as a passer is top shelf when accounting for his natural delivery and how easily he’s proven to be able to throw around defenders or work himself into generating velocity and accuracy when on the move; the Buckeyes embraced rolling pocket with Fields at quarterback to take advantage of his arm strength and the subsequent access he’ll get to all areas of the field as a passer. Fields will kill man-coverage heavy teams with his legs; he’s big, strong and yet still quite dynamic as a runner — so breaking contain and converting third downs with his legs is a large staple of the conflict Fields is capable of putting you into as a player. There’s also plenty of examples of Fields successfully engineering option-based reps in the mesh point between zone read, RPO concepts and extending even to sparing use of the speed option, giving his NFL coordinator the full bag of tricks to create conflict defenders and isolate them in the game plan. It’s what Fields has largely done best. There are instances of overconfidence in his arm and continuing to quicken his process beyond the first read is a needed point of emphasis for Fields to stay “on schedule” and keep his sack totals down, but that is inevitably going to be part of his game that his pro team will have to be ready to live with in the same way it it true for quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and others. Their play can be a double-edged sword at times and so it will be for Fields, who is every bit as physically gifted as those previously mentioned named passers. Fields will need to arrive to a destination that embraces his ability to win with his legs and the QB run game or else run the risk of a bumpy road early on as a starting NFL quarterback; but if he is paired with a head coach or offensive coordinator who can pull the best parts of his college game and implement them in the NFL, Fields has the potential to splash early.
Ideal Role: Franchise Quarterback
Scheme Fit: Hybrid Spread/West Coast Offense with QB power run dynamics
- Tremendous skill set
- Accurate passer
- Good arm strength
- Can make all the throws
- Can fire fastballs into tight windows
- Throws with quality timing and anticipation in rhythm
- Aggressive to push the ball downfield
- Hits receivers on the run
- Throws receivers open
- Leads receivers for more yardage after the catch
- Able to loft in touch passes
- Throws a very catchable ball
- Throws into tight windows
- Elite mobility
- Dynamic runner in the open field
- Dangerous passer on the run
- Can throw off platform
- Good speed for a quarterback
- Avoided turnovers overall
- Poor pocket awareness
- Can get rattled by the pass rush
- Can freeze when seeing the blitz
- Must get better at passing in the face of the rush
- Blitz recognition needs work
- Needs to check the ball down more
- Field vision needs development
- Needs to get quicker working through progressions
- Limited playing experience; only 1.5 seasons as a starter
Player Comparison: Deshaun Watson/Dak Prescott. Some team sources say Fields is built like a thicker Deshaun Watson, and others say he has a build like Dak Prescott. Many forget that Watson had some uneven performances in his final year of college. I think Fields could be similar NFL quarterback to Watson, while some team sources comped Fields to Prescott.
Justin Fields NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 228 pounds
School: Ohio State
Current Year: Junior
Fields came into the 2020 season with sky-high expectations, and at first, he surpassed even those. In his first three games, Fields completed 72 of 83 attempts (86.7%) for 908 yards, 11 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Fields seemed completely unflappable, and his early efficiency set him apart as a quarterback prospect.
As the year went on, however, Fields faced tougher competition, and his imperfections began to show. In the final three games of the regular season, Fields completed just 47 of 81 attempts (58%) for 613 yards, four touchdowns, and five interceptions. Ohio State managed to survive the late-season stretch without a loss, but Fields’ inconsistency hurt them at times.
In spite of his late struggles, Fields was again named Big Ten Player of the Year. The Buckeyes edged out Northwestern in the Big Ten title game. And thus, the Ohio State quarterback will have a chance to exact revenge on Trevor Lawrence in a CFB Playoff Semifinal rematch.