Justin Fields is being pegged quite possibly the second player taken in the NFL Draft, the Ohio State quarterback almost certainly landing among the top five picks this April. His learning curve, however, is something that former NFL head coach June Jones says is a caution ahead of the draft.
Jones has questions about Fields, cautioning that there will be more than just a learning curve ahead for a player who had legitimate Heisman buzz at the midpoint of the season. Last season, his second as a starter at Ohio State, saw Fields throw for 2,000 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Jones called Fields “a special athlete no doubt” who “has proven at a high level he can win.” But, the offense and system at Ohio State, Jones says, may not translate to the NFL.
“The thing that scares me is that the system he is coming from is not like what he is going do once he gets to the NFL,” Jones told SportsIllustrated.com. “It is a run system not a pass system. Urban Myer liked and convinced the [Washington Football Team] that Dwayne Haskins was the best he has had...and they took him in first round… but [their] system is nothing like what Haskins did at Ohio State. As far as Haskins goes it also concerns me that Urban did not try to sign him as free agent now that he is the Jags head coach.”
Ohio State finished the year 7-1 and advanced to the College Football Playoff Championship. They lost in that game 55-24 to No. 1 Alabama. Fields was 17-of-33 for 194 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
There has been speculation, although it is loosely based and with no merit, that Fields could be in play at No. 1 overall. Most of this reaching stems from the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars, sitting atop the draft, hired former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer as their head coach.
Currently, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is projected as the first overall pick despite losing to Ohio State in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff.
Meyer coached the aforementioned Haskins at Ohio State. Last year’s first overall pick Joe Burrow, who won the Heisman and the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top player, transferred from Ohio State to LSU as he sat behind Haskins on the Buckeyes depth chart.
Haskins was cut by Washington last month, a move that came just weeks shy of completing his second NFL season.
“The fact Urban chose Haskins over Joe Burrow is another problem for me...is Justin a product of the system? Just like Haskins?” Jones said. “I hate to say Dwayne and Justin are alike but coming from Ohio State - both unfortunately for the NFL they are projects not sure things.”
Last year, Jones coached in the XFL as a head coach and in The Spring League as an offensive coordinator. A former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and the San Diego Chargers (interim), he also spent time in college as a head coach of Hawaii and SMU.