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Quarterback prospect Justin Fields dazzles in Ohio State Pro Day workout


To watch Justin Fields' workout at Ohio State's Pro Day, it seemed like there was nothing the star quarterback couldn't do.

In his 40-yard dash, Fields blew away onlookers with an unofficial time of 4.44 seconds. Since 2006, only one first-round quarterback has run a faster time at the NFL Combine, according to Adam Schefter.

In his on-field workout throwing to receivers, Fields may have been more impressive. Accuracy, arm strength, polished footwork — Fields put it all on display on Tuesday for the scouts and personnel executives, including Broncos General Manager George Paton, who attended the session.

"You look at the field workout and you look at the way he was able to, with clean footwork, with bodies kind of moving toward him … and the ball jumped out of his hand on drive throws," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said afterward. "Deep throws, he was able to layer the ball — showed you everything you wanted to see within a pro day workout."

Perhaps no moment, though, was more eye-opening than the absolute missile he threw after escaping the pocket to his left. As a receiver ran a deep corner route from the left seam, Fields aired out a throw that traveled about 60 yards downfield, hitting the receiver just about in perfect stride.

"We were pretty much just showing me escaping the pocket and showing my hips turn," Fields told media after the session. "It was definitely one of my top throws of the day."

Fields' arm, of course, has been a major strength in his two seasons with Ohio State. In 22 games, Fields completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 5,701 yards, 63 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, and he added 867 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.

Yet, if there's one persistent knock on him, it's his ability to move through his reads. Both Jeremiah and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. have noted that in their evaluations of him, though it doesn't appear to be a significant enough issue for them; Jeremiah has Fields as the eight-best overall prospect and Kiper has him at No. 6.

Fields shrugged off this criticism, though, explaining that most of the time he doesn't feel the need to go past his second read because the first two are so often open.

"To be honest, we have some of the best receivers in the country," Fields said, "so if my first or second read is there, I'm not going to pass up that first or second read to get to the three, four or fifth read to prove that I can read past my first or second read."

If there are any evaluators that have those concerns, a pro day workout with receivers running unguarded routes will do little to dispel them; instead, they'd have to address them when speaking with the young quarterback in video-conference conversations.

Fields said that in the course of those kinds of calls with teams so far, he's gotten the opportunity to explain these things to them.

"Basically when they pull up my film, they have me tell them the formation, what my reads are on that certain play," Fields said. "So, pretty much going through that certain film and those particular plays, I explain to them what I'm thinking on this play, what defense it is, what the read is, what I'm taught — because there's many coaches that run the same kind of concepts but they just teach it differently. So, pretty much what they want to know is what was going on in my head, what I thought on a certain play. I think it's good just getting on that Zoom call and being able to explain that to them to pretty much just understand where my mind was or how I was taught to read a certain concept."

Once they understand that, perhaps they see that Fields can be one of the top young quarterbacks. As Ohio State head coach Ryan Day told Aditi Kinkhabwala on NFL Network, there's nothing Fields isn't ready for at the next level.

"We do just about everything that they do at the next level," Day said. "We line up under center, we throw play-action pass, we run RPOs [run-pass option plays], we throw nakeds and boots [bootleg plays] on the perimeter. Just about everything we do here they do in the NFL."

But what Day says is most impressive to him about Fields is what scouts and personnel executives couldn't see on Tuesday, the intangibles that make him a special kind of person on the field.

"This year [against Clemson], he gets hit on his hip … I mean, he just got absolutely whacked — out for a play, and throws a touchdown pass to Chris Olave the next play," Day said. "His competitive toughness is unlike anyone I've ever been around."

With those traits and physical tools, Fields is likely to be one of the first five quarterbacks taken in the upcoming draft and is perhaps an option for the Broncos with the ninth-overall pick, should he last that long. Paton has previously expressed that quarterback is "in play" for Denver with their first pick, and in recent weeks, he has led a small group to visit other top prospects' pro days, which included opportunities to observe North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and BYU’s Zach Wilson in action. In addition, Paton has also attended pro-day workouts in person at the University of South Carolina and Penn State.

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