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Patriots 2021 Draft Profile, QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
10 months ago at 7:00 am ET
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Draft

Patriots 2021 Draft Profile, QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

As the 2021 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots’ radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots had been spoiled for 20 years having Tom Brady at the helm at quarterback, while other teams struggled for years (some of them for decades) trying to find their franchise quarterback. In 2020, the Patriots remembered what that was like after Brady signed with Tampa Bay. We’re not going to get into the same tired “whose fault was it” here… he’s gone and they were starting from scratch. 

At first, the team seemed set on going with Jarrett Stidham, and by all outward indications, the Patriots seemed to have a lot of confidence in his ability to lead the team forward. And we were intrigued to see what they had in him. 

But after the COVID-19 coronavirus hit, the Patriots (and the rest of the NFL), had no OTAs, minicamps etc. All of a sudden, the Patriots grew less enthused with Stidham and a late signing of Cam Newton sealed the deal. Although the coaches gave Stidham the early reps, he didn’t impress and was throwing interceptions daily in practice. Where Brady reveled in competition, Stidham seemingly crumbled. 

Newton, while on paper was a steal, his on-field production was more of a nightmare. It had nothing to do with his work ethic, which was off the charts. Or his chemistry with the players, where it seemed like the players were attracted to him as their leader. But it was just a bad fit.  So, the team is back to square one.

We thought the Patriots would sign a veteran (Ryan Fitzpatrick, to me, is a great fit, although we’ve been hearing rumors of Mariota), and then draft a young gun. That’s still our thoughts. So…who will the Patriots draft? 

Justin Fields, Ohio State could be “the guy” if he’s still there at #15 (we don’t believe so, but more to that below). So, forget for now the “what-ifs” and let’s look at the player.

Fields fits the mold for the modern-NFL quarterback that can run, throw from the pocket or on the move. He’s 6’3, 228 pounds of solid muscle that makes him hard to bring down in the pocket with the athleticism to escape the pass rush and make plays on the move. 

He began his college career at Georgia, and after playing behind Jake Fromm as a freshman, transferred to Ohio State, his past two seasons, 2019 and a shortened 2020 that ended up with Ohio State in the National Championship Game against Alabama were outstanding. In 22 games for the Buckeyes, he completed 396 of 579 passes, which was 68.4 percent for 5373 yards with 63 TDs, just 9 interceptions for a passer rating of 179.1. He rushed 218 times for 867 yards with 15 more TDs. 

Fields has among the best arm strength’s of anyone in the class, and the accuracy to make throws in all three areas of the field. And he throws a very accurate deep ball. He started off the shortened 2020 season on fire, but down the stretch, he struggled. In his final three games, Fields only completed 58 percent of his passes with four TDs and five INTs. 

But in the college semifinal playoffs against Clemson, Fields regained his sharpness, completing 22 passes on 28 attempts, for 385 yards, six TDs, and one interception. He also ran the ball for 42 yards on eight attempts.

He has struggled with some of his reads and recognizing pressure and at times, has too much trust in his arm and the ability to throw in tight windows. His throwing motion could tighten up a bit, although that is relatively minor. But with having his arm strength, athleticism, and clutch play ability,  the ceiling is very high for Fields. 

We had Fields long gone by the time the Patriots pick at #15. However, NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein said in a recent mock draft that he believes Fields will drop all the way to the Patriots at #15, and that has set many tongues wagging around New England, thinking about the possibilities…

“It’s hard to project where the QBs will land this year, as I expect grades to vary greatly by team. But Fields is a talented quarterback with big-game experience who will have a chance to compete for snaps immediately in New England.” 

Pros:

– Physically measures well at 6’3, 228

– Outstanding arm strength

– Very athletic and will eat up defenses who play in man coverage with scrambling

– Clutch performer

Cons

– Has struggled with his reads and recognizing pressure

– At times trusts his arm too much when trying to fit the ball in tight windows 

– Throwing motion can be a bit long

What his Role Will Be:

Fields (if he’s there at 15) will challenge right away to be the franchise QB. 

Will His Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, he will be expected to make the offense his and become a team leader

How Many Downs Can He Play?

Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

None, Newton is a free agent and he’ll leapfrog Stidham on Day 1

What is his ST Value?

None

Conclusion:
Fields is an outstanding prospect and has all of the tools to be an excellent franchise quarterback in the NFL. However, he’s not a finished product and has some things to work on, speeding up his clock for the NFL game, and making his reads quicker. 

But when he gets the ball and throws on rhythm, he’s got some incredible talent. He’s produced some incredible production in Ohio State’s spread system. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands as a runner and can easily run away from defenders.

Draft analyst for NFL.com Daniel Jeremiah had this to say:

“Fields has a lot to work with at the position. He can make every throw and he’s an incredible athlete. Fields has a full skill set. In the passing game, he’s at his best when he’s on time and in rhythm. He shows the ability to deliver the ball with anticipation and accuracy on drive throws down the field. He throws from a 3/4 arm slot, and the ball has plenty of life/velocity. He is accurate on the move to both his right and left. He has a good feel in the run/pass-option game. He also has the athleticism to extend plays and create.”

“I see a lot of similarities to Dak Prescott when he was coming out of Mississippi State. Both play the position with physicality and toughness that I admire. Dak was similarly effective in the QB run game, and they both possess the playmaking skills to bail out a bad play call.”

On the Rich Eisen Show, Jeremiah said that the Semifinal game against Clemson was the best he’s ever seen him play and talked about his toughness

Fields has the size, physicality, athleticism, and arm strength to be the “next guy” for the Patriots. However, as much as I like to read with Zierlein writes, with no disrespect intended, I would doubt he’s still there at #15. However, if he was… the Patriots would be crazy not to take a long, long look at him.  

A highlight film for Fields by Sports Productions can be seen here: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/a9mgNPBsyto” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Streamyard as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news, rumors, and game analysis.

 


Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Draft
Tags: 2021 Patriots Draft 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Cam Newton Jarrett Stidham Justin Fields New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots QBs Tom Brady


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