There is a good chance that if Ohio State’s Justin Fields declares for the 2021 NFL Draft he will be the second quarterback selected behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. At worst, he would be the third quarterback off the board if teams favored BYU’s Zach Wilson. Even if he was the third QB drafted, he would still likely hear his name called in the first round.
According to ESPN’s NFL Draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., however, Fields could improve his stock by returning to Ohio State for another season, improve his game even more, and be the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback for the 2022 NFL Draft.
“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, right things,” Kiper said on the ‘First Draft’ podcast.” 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.”
McShay admitted that he does think Fields will declare for the draft, but he agreed with Kiper in saying that another year in college would do him good.
“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.”
The fact that Ohio State only played five regular-season games in 2020 didn’t help Fields’ cause by any means, but he did lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and a trip to the national title game. He finished seventh in the nation in completion percentage (70.2%) while throwing 22 touchdowns and rushing for another five to go along with six interceptions.
After transferring from Georgia as a freshman, Fields has 78 total touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a record of 20-2 as a starter for the Buckeyes.