ESPN NFL Draft analysts believe return to Ohio State would benefit QB Justin Fields
How quickly things change.
Only a few months ago everyone was debating whether Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State’s Justin Fields would be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Now, apparently, a pair of ESPN analysts believe it would be wise for one of those quarterbacks to return to the college level for one more season.
Recently on ESPN’s NFL Draft podcast, both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay agreed that Fields would benefit greatly from a return to Ohio State and pursue his professional aspirations a year later.
“I think going back to Ohio State for another year, as opposed to coming into the National Football League without the momentum from having a great season like he did two years ago, (he can) right things,” Kiper said, according to 247Sports. “He can work on things fundamentally. Ohio State’s got a ton of talent coming in every year. They’re always reloading, they’re not rebuilding there. Ryan Day will have plenty of talent. I think it’s worth a minute or two discussion as to whether Justin Fields would be better off going back to Ohio State for the 2021 season.”
Fields still had an outstanding season, but struggled in some of Ohio State’s biggest games. He threw 3 interceptions in a 42-35 win over Indiana. In the B1G Championship Game, Fields completed just 12-of-27 passes for 114 yards and 2 interceptions without a touchdowns.
Monday night, Fields finished the game completing 17-of-33 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown in a 52-24 loss to Alabama.
“You want to have success in the league. I think Mel’s right,” McShay said. “You don’t think (a return to college) is going to happen but I think Mel is exactly right. … He’s not there yet. If you study film and you know what you’re talking about and you know how to identify what quarterbacks are looking for and you know defensive coverages and you know how to get off your primary to secondary to third target, you can see that he’s not there yet.
“Ryan Day is so good at protecting him and putting him in good spots that it doesn’t show up a whole lot.”
Fields had his best outing of the year in Ohio State’s 49-28 Sugar Bowl win over Clemson. He completed 22-of-28 pass attempts for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns with just 1 interception. After that performance, Kiper said that Fields had secured his spot as a high draft pick.
Apparently a lot can change in a week.