Cleveland Browns Comprehensive NFL Draft Review: Tony Fields II, LB West Virginia

With the 153rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Tony Fields II, a linebacker out of West Virginia. Using historical data and his game tape, evaluating him and projecting his role and future with the team.
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The Cleveland Browns traded the 89th pick in the draft to move up in a swap with the Carolina Panthers to select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah as well as acquire the 113th pick, which was then traded for the 153rd pick and a 2022 fourth round pick. With that pick, the Browns selected Tony Fields II, linebacker from West Virginia.

Fields played three seasons at the University of Arizona, starting all 37 of them. He graduated with a degree in literacy, literature and learning, then enrolled at the University of West Virginia as a graduate student. In his one season at West Virginia, Fields was named defensive newcomer of the year and voted all-Big 12 First Team by the media and coaches.

Athletic Profile

Age: 21 (Born June 18, 1999)

Height: 6' 1/4"

Weight: 222 lbs

Arm Length: 31 1/4"

40-yard dash: 4.64

Broad Jump: 114"

Vertical Jump: 34"

3-cone: 7.15

Shuttle: 4.48

Bench Press: 17 reps

Fields has a pretty mediocre overall athleticism profile. The one thing he does offer is some speed, which is important given his small stature. He's light, short and has limited length.

As with some of their other prospects of this draft, the hope is the GPS data recorded better overall athleticism on the field. The one thing he does do well on the field is how quickly he reacts, which can enable him to play faster than his times would suggest.

Tony Fields Athleticism

Production

2019 (Best Season w/ Arizona)

Solo Tackles: 58 (10.3%

2020 (Last Season w/ West Virginia)

Solo Tackles: 34 (8.9%)

Fields was productive enough to clear the threshold to starter, but comes up well short of the average.

Tony Fields Production

Game Tape

Fields often played the MIKE in college, occasionally being utilized as an overhang or a designated pass rusher. Arizona ran a defense that was more focused on protecting the second level, so Fields could fly around and make plays while West Virginia had a defense that primarily uses a 1-gap principles, so that everyone is attacking, but can also leave the linebackers to fend for themselves against offensive linemen.

At his best, Fields is an attacking presence that is immediately moving when the ball is snapped, whether it's to blitz or getting down hill and making his read. When he stands still, he makes it easy for opposing linemen going to the second level to overwhelm and engulf him

Fields is diminutive, but he's great at reducing the amount of surface area opponents have to block, be it dipping under or around opponents, so they can't get him cleanly and he can keep working to the ball.

He's also smart in his reads. Fields shows a good awareness of what offenses are trying to do, recognizing blocking schemes, fakes and route combinations. Part of why he can make up for lack of his physical traits is because he does his homework, processes information and reacts quickly, at times even one step ahead of the offense recognizing what's coming.

His acceleration is outstanding even when he's completely still, he can reach his top speed in a few steps, making him ideal for blitzing, dropping or attacking the ball both in coverage as well as a tackler. Opponents are often caught by surprise at just how quickly he can close ground in a short area that he can get past blocks or stick ball carriers as a result.

As a blitzer and occasional pass rusher, Fields is great at timing up his blitzes for maximum impact. He's able to get opposing the protection scheme to not account for him at times or Fields will simply be too fast for them to get in his way. It's also worth noting that he can occasionally jolt blockers when they are catching him when he's got momentum.

Fields is a feast or famine tackler. He tends to launch himself and dive at many opponents. At times, he's doing it to try to account for a block he's trying to avoid, but particularly in his last year at West Virginia, he was missing tackles that he should make as he was diving at them, not securing the tackle in the process and ball carriers were simply avoiding him or even having him bounce off at times.

Fields really shines in coverage. He's quick to his drops, so he can be showing blitz and get back to his spot effectively. His acceleration allows him to close ground quickly when he's in zone or man coverage and quarterbacks attempt to throw near him, enabling him to make plays on the ball or stop the bleeding in terms of yards after the catch.

Fields is able to read the quarterback's eyes while continuing to slide and move, so he can play the quarterback's to the receiver. He's not someone that will often allow himself to get mesmerized and stop his feet, which enables him to be a pretty good threat to make plays underneath on the ball. And with his ability to get to speed quickly, he can come downhill and reduce the yardage a quarterback can scramble to get.

In the underneath and intermediate areas of the field like the hook/curl zones, Fields is able to cover a good amount of space and force passers to reconsider passing near him.

Fit, Usage and Projection

For the Browns, Fields stands out as a coverage and blitzing option in passing situations. It's going to be incredibly difficult for him to hold up with the rigors of the running game consistently, taking on more athletic offensive linemen and ball carriers when that often was a problem in college.

The Browns largely divide their linebackers into parts of the position. They have run stoppers like Sione Takitaki and Anthony Walker that offer size and strength and they have players built to do more in coverage like Malcolm Smith. Fields fits into the latter category.

The extra benefit Fields brings is his ability to blitz. He can sell blitz and drop back or play back and blitz, both from the middle of the field. He's able to keep opponents slightly off balance in that respect.

Fields is also going to have to contribute on special teams, which takes advantage of his acceleration and ability to slip and deflect blocks as he gets to the ball carrier.

Based on the historical data, Fields is one of the two worst in terms of long term projections for NFL success, which is backup, end of the roster player. And while that isn't ideal, if Fields is a depth linebacker that is consistent on passing downs and helps on special teams, he may never be a starter or make the Pro Bowl, but he could be a valuable role player for the team the entirety of his contract.

Rest of the Browns 2021 Draft Class

Greg Newsome II, CB Northwestern

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB Notre Dame

Anthony Schwartz, WR Auburn

James Hudson, OT Cincinnati

Tommy Togiai, DT Ohio State

Richard LeCounte III, S Georgia

Demetric Felton, RB UCLA