The five-star recruit from Kennesaw, Georgia, made headlines before ever starting in college as he committed to Penn State after his junior season in high school. Just six months later, Fields decommitted and went on multiple visits to SEC programs before committing to Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs. As a true freshman, Fields served as the backup to Jake Fromm and got to play in designed packages for him at quarterback. Georgia’s coaching staff decided to keep Fromm as the starter, causing the talented dual-threat to transfer.
Fields’ destination was Columbus to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes and first-year head coach Ryan Day. After being granted immediate eligibility, Fields had one of the greatest two-season runs by any quarterback in Ohio State’s proud football history, passing for 5,373 yards and 63 touchdowns, en route to back-to-back BIG10 titles, as well as college football playoff appearances in both 2019 and 2020. His first matchup with the Clemson Tigers ended in an interception thrown by Fields when he had the chance to take the lead with less than two minutes to play.
Fields would get his revenge, beating Clemson 49-28 in a season that he had to fight for, having players sign petitions to play in the middle of a pandemic. After just losing two games in his entire college career as a starter, Fields has his eyes set on bringing his winning ways to an NFL franchise.
From a physical traits perspective, Fields possesses many of the skills coveted by NFL teams. An exciting runner, he has the burst to defeat pursuit angles in space as well as the physicality to break tackles. He will have to slide more at the next level but has already gotten better in this area, putting more of an emphasis on protecting himself.
Fields can push the ball vertically 50-to-60 yards and hit targets accurately while leaving air underneath his passes to let receivers adjust to it. Driving the football over the middle is not a concern as he throws a tight spiral with plenty of velocity into tight windows. Having made improvements to his mechanics and accuracy coming into the 2020 season, Fields displays the ability to hit targets on the money when throwing outside of the hashes.
His aforementioned deep ball is a thing of beauty, keeping defensive backs honest by making them protect against it for the entire play. When rolling out to his left or right, Fields has very sound mechanics, connecting with receivers at a high level making him an exciting passer on bootlegs and other designed rollouts as well as when he breaks contain himself. With Ohio State utilizing their talented tight ends later in the season, the Georgia native showed his ability to throw bigger targets open by placing passes high and away from defenders.
Fields is an impressive escape artist who can maneuver a muddy pocket, keeping his eyes downfield while dancing around defenders and stepping through pressure. When given a rushing lane underneath, he takes full advantage making him a threat to score in the red zone as well. His hips are smooth, flipping around quickly to set up to throw to another side while he is going through his reads. Getting out of the pocket or extending within makes Fields an exciting playmaker off script, giving an offense margin for error as he can create yardage on his own.
He stands tall and confidently in the pocket, often waiting until he has a defender barreling down on him to find his check-down or an opening in an underneath zone. With his playmaking, teams have to take the good and the bad as he is prone to playing hero ball, extending plays for too long and taking unnecessary sacks. It should be noted that his pocket presence and internal clock have gotten better from 2019 to 2020, as he finds his check-down and steps up into the pocket instead of drifting backward on a consistent basis.
Fields has eliminated much of his accuracy problem that was apparent last season but can still miss over the middle, which is especially costly when throwing high to stationary targets leading to big hits from the defense. His base is too wide at times, elongating his throwing motion and causing velocity issues as he has to drive the ball solely with his arm. Unlike other passers in this class, he is not able to throw off-platform as consistently with much of his accuracy and zip gets lost when he throws with different arm angles.
Fields’ biggest concern lies in his decision making and while a playmaking mentality is appreciated, an NFL quarterback has to know when to take chances and Fields gets too greedy throwing the ball into coverage when he should play to live another down. He is not an instinctual thrower yet as he is a slow processor which hurts him when the game moves quickly in the red zone, missing open receivers underneath. Lacking anticipatory ability, Fields has to see his receiver open before he releases the football. Fields is on the edge of playing poised and being too slow mentally and it hurts him when pressured successfully as he does not find his hot route quickly enough.
With Fields, it is not an issue of understanding defense but rather one of tardiness going through his reads and making correct decisions. While he gets away with much of it, his timing is consistently late as takes half a second longer to release the ball on many throws.
When highlighting Fields, his deep ball is one of the first things that have to come to mind. Against Clemson, he started off to his right, coming back to a deep post to his left, setting his feet and making a beautiful throw for the touchdown:
His athletic ability is on full display here, as he finds a running lane and tucks the ball to pick up a big gain:
He can avoid defenders within the pocket:
And extend plays outside of the pocket:
Fields is very accurate outside of the hashes as shown here on a back-shoulder touchdown pass:
His mechanics when rolling right are clean, allowing him to make accurate passes on the move:
Fields likes to stand in the pocket and go through his reads, getting rid of the ball just before he gets hit:
This pass to his tight end has to be out much faster in the red zone:
On timing routes like curls, he has to avoid his extra hitch and throw the ball right before the receiver breaks:
Here his lack of instincts show as Fields misses both in breaking routes coming wide open for a touchdown to throw one to a contested target:
While his arm gets hit as he releases it, Fields should have never thrown this pass as the cornerback peels of to the corner and had a good chance to pick this pass regardless:
The likely high draft pick should be a starting quarterback early on in his career. Fields has shown improvement in every season of his career and has the athleticism and arm talent to bail him out of bad plays. He has to become a quicker processor and minimize bad decisions to develop into the high-level starter he could be. His best fit is in an offense that pushes the ball vertically off of play-action and utilizes him on rollouts and bootlegs. Fields will benefit from coaches that allow him to freelance and make plays off-script.
Scouting Lenz Value: Top 10 Overall Selection