Which teams could draft the Ohio State Star?
Daniel Racz @Danny___Dimes
As a top recruit in the class of 2018, Justin Fields has long been a sought after quarterback. During his time in high school, Fields was always competing with Trevor Lawrence for top the spot in the class. Although many experts believe that Lawrence will be drafted with the first pick in the 2021 NFL draft, Justin Fields has a great case to be viewed as the best quarterback in the class when all is said and done.
If Fields is drafted by a team with the proper surrounding infrastructure, he could flourish. At Ohio State, we saw Fields excel in a pro-style offense that utilized the quarterback run and vertical passing game. Any team with a sharp coach and a formidable group of weapons would unleash Fields’ skillset. At Ohio State, Fields found success running Read and Run Pass Options with JK Dobbins and Trey Sermon in the backfield. He also often targeted his receivers vertically and was accurate enough on his deep throws to Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson to inspire confidence that his accuracy will carry into the NFL.
Justin Fields is by no means a perfect prospect. He, like almost every quarterback prospect, does not go through his reads in a timely manner. Fields also has a propensity for unnecessarily playing “hero ball” when he can instead opt to scramble or throw it away. That said, Fields stands strong in the pocket, throws the ball with extraordinary accuracy, and has a strong enough arm to make virtually every throw on the gridiron.
The New York Jets
The most logical fit for Justin is the team holding the number two pick, the New York Jets. The Jets are flush in assets with six top 100 selections (and possibly more if they trade Sam Darnold) and the second-most cap space in the league. If the Jets opt to take Fields with the second pick in the draft, they have all the tools to build a complete offense around him.
The Jets hired Robert Saleh, the former defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers to be their new head coach. Saleh brought over Mike LaFleur, the 49ers passing game coordinator, to be the Jets’ new offensive coordinator. Given that the Jets personnel is drastically different from that of the 49ers, I would expect LaFleur’s staff to design their offense around their players. If the Jets spend some of their available salary and draft picks on field-stretching weapons and a quality running back, Justin Fields should be in a great environment.
However, the Jets have not made many smart personnel decisions in the past few seasons. Unless we see the Jets bring in the necessary talent to surround Fields during the offseason, there will be questions about the situation that gang green may force onto Justin Fields if he is their quarterback.
The Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos are a team that already has the infrastructure in place to help Fields succeed. The Broncos receiver corps, consisting of Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, and Tim Patrick is one of the best in the league. The Broncos also have Melvin Gordon under contract for the 2021 season, so if Fields is put in Denver he will have a reliable counterpart in the backfield.
Denver’s offensive coordinator is former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. Daniel Jones thrived when Daniel Jones was put in the Pat Shurmur offense in 2019. Shurmur utilized Jones’s aggressiveness and deep passing ability. If Fields is selected by the Broncos during the 2021 NFL draft, he will be set up with a franchise that is suited to maximize his abilities.
The Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers were trying to trade for Matthew Stafford. They are currently trying to trade for Deshaun Watson. If Watson does not end up in Carolina, aggressive owner David Tepper may order his front office to trade up and draft a franchise quarterback. The Panthers weapons trio made up of D.J. Moore, Christian McCaffrey, and Robby Anderson rivals the other top groups in the league. While Curtis Samuel is an impending free agent, the Panthers also may add a fourth weapon during the offseason.
D.J. Moore came out of college as an elite prospect in almost every analytical measure. He had a 97th percentile college dominator, 98th percentile breakout age, and 88th percentile speed score. Moore’s deep ability has not been used to its potential due to the quarterback limitations in Carolina. Christian McCaffrey is the best fantasy asset at the running back position in the entire league. The sky’s the limit for Justin Fields if he is paired with an elite wide receiver and stud running back, like the ones already on the Carolina Panthers. Carolina is the franchise that provides the best supporting cast. Whichever quarterback ends up in Carolina will be in a great position. If it is Justin Fields, the expectation should be that Fields will develop into, at minimum, a top ten quarterback.
Justin Fields is as polished a prospect as Trevor Lawrence in my humble opinion, and I am not scared to put my faith in him. Justin has the skillset to make plays outside of structure and play within a system. Wherever he is drafted, do not be intimidated. Justin is a modern NFL quarterback. He is a blend of Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, and Dak Prescott. Justin Fields, like Trevor Lawrence, has no significant weaknesses. While Denver and Carolina are certainly less likely to draft Justin than the New York Jets, all three teams have the chance to turn Justin Fields into a perennial pro-bowler.
Assuming Justin is drafted to be Gang Green’s savior, expect great things. The supporting cast of Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, and the new weapons that will be added during the offseason is not the best, but Justin will make it work. He has elevated the play of separation specialist receivers like Chris Olave, do-it-all wideouts like Garrett Wilson, and has increased the production of running back Trey Sermon. Justin’s 2020 tape was not as good as his 2019 tape, but consider both when evaluating him, you might just see the next great franchise quarterback.