According to 107.5 The Fan’s ‘The Ride with JMV’ featuring radio host JMV, he’s heard from sources that the Indianapolis Colts so far only like Ohio State rookie passer Justin Fields among top rookie quarterback prospects in this year’s NFL Draft class (a group which presumably excludes consensus #1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of Clemson from any realistic consideration right now for the Colts):
“The only name that I heard they like at the quarterback position in this draft is Justin Fields,” JMV said with fellow 107.5 guest Kevin Bowen. “That is the only one. And it would seem short of absolutely impossible to do that, and nobody else floats anybody’s boat.”
At 6’3”, 228 pounds, the starting junior quarterback completed 158 of 225 passing attempts (70.2%) for 2,100 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions during 8 starts for Ohio State this past season.
The Buckeyes star also amassed 383 rushing yards on 81 carries (4.7 ypc. avg.) and 5 rushing touchdowns on the ground during 2020.
Fields finished his standout Columbus career as a Heisman Trophy Finalist, 2nd Team All-American, 2x First-Team All-Big Ten Member, 2x Big Ten Champion, Big Ten Championship MVP, 2x Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, and 2x Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year among his other prestigious collegiate accolades.
Of course, for the Colts, the cost to trade up into the Top 7 from Pick #21 to realistically select Fields will be exorbitant—presumably at least pick #21, a future first, and a second/third round pick (*roughly speaking*).
With the heavy draft capital given up, that’s the type of move that if Indianapolis trades up and whiffs on Fields, it could set the franchise back for a few years:
“The one position that you cannot (force), just all of you go back and look at first round quarterbacks drafted over the last 10 years,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in his end-of-season press conference. “It is not an exact (science), everyone just thinks you take one and you’re going to fix the problem.”
“Look, taking one will get you all off my ass for a little bit, but the second that guy doesn’t play well, I’m going to be the first one run out of the building.”
However, if Ballard and head coach Frank Reich are fully convinced that Fields is the future franchise quarterback for the next 15 years in Indianapolis—by all means, swing for the fences, and swing away:
“Again, if we could find a young guy, that’s always going to be our focus in the draft, get the guy you can build around for the next 15 years so to speak, that’s ideal,” said Colts team owner Jim Irsay earlier this week.
If Fields proves to be the long-term answer, the Colts would also maintain the luxury of having him on a cheaper rookie contract for the next handful of seasons, which could help the franchise upgrade the roster elsewhere and keep more core players around—improving their chances of Super Bowl contention in the short-term (even though there would assuredly be some initial growing pains for any young quarterback).
For what it’s worth, here’s the scouting report on Fields (via NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah):
“Fields has good size, excellent arm strength and remarkable athleticism for the quarterback position. He has produced monster numbers both passing and rushing in the Buckeyes’ spread system. He is at his best when he throws on time and in rhythm. The ball jumps out of his hand and he can deliver it accurately at all three levels. When the defense takes that initial target away, he’s had issues quickly aborting that opportunity, which has made him late on throws and also resulted in sacks. He has shown flashes of quickly getting deeper in his progressions (see: 2021 Sugar Bowl vs. Clemson), but that part of his game is still a work in progress. He’s dynamic as a runner. His first step is explosive and he pulls away from defenders with ease. He’s also incredibly tough, as evidenced by his performance after getting drilled in the semifinal game against the Tigers. Overall, I think Fields has a chance to be special, but it’s going to take some time for him to speed up his clock in the passing game.”
Here’s also what the draft experts are saying:
Fields' overall adjusted accuracy of 83.18% is the best I have ever recorded.— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) January 28, 2021
(Joe Burrow at 78.43% was the previous best, which is surely pulled down in part by his 2018 sample. I'd guess 2019 Burrow is about where Fields is.)
Justin Fields has the Deshaun Watson thing where he holds onto the ball too long and puts himself in position to be sacked a lot, but is outrageous at escaping sack attempts. Crazy explosion and balance for a QB.— Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) January 27, 2021
Justin Fields can power the ball down the field and to the perimeter. This is an excellent QB class! https://t.co/IeMhnJh8Wh— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 21, 2021
Ohio St QB Justin Fields is an elusive runner. He makes a lot of defenders look bad. pic.twitter.com/lqkde7OH7c— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 24, 2020
Just finished studying Justin Fields vs Rutgers. I love his ability to avoid the free rusher and remain calm. Here are a few examples of his poise & elusiveness: pic.twitter.com/7Av9DMam48— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 10, 2020
Anticipation and escapability leading to new opportunities. Justin Fields has performed both at a high level so far this year. Two traits that carry over to the next level. pic.twitter.com/mASNXMctmM— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 16, 2020
Ridiculous ball placement from Fields. pic.twitter.com/g9C2amrzKO— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) January 2, 2021
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State:— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) July 7, 2020
• Cashing in on deep opportunities
• Out of structure extraordinaire (+)
• Arm strength to all 3 levels (++)
• Extra armor to withstand traffic
• Composure in chaos (+)
• Scrambling to throw first pic.twitter.com/de3tCErO12
Looking through QB Justin Fields performance vs. Rutgers. He was at his best.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 8, 2020
Ohio St. is running a flood concept (vertical-deep out-flat) off of play-action. He fits the ball in a small window vs. soft Cov. 2.
One of the best TD throws of his career. pic.twitter.com/X6Rtlhu5NR
Justin Fields is getting through the 1,2,3 options in his progressions so much cleaner this year. Don’t have one comp. that I really love, but I definitely see the Steve McNair one that’s been made.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 1, 2020
Justin Fields' internal clock remains a concerning issue. It leads to inefficient reads, missed open underneath targets and sacks.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 19, 2020
Highest accurate pass % in 2020:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 28, 2021
1. Justin Fields - 72%
2. Mac Jones - 72%
3. Trevor Lawrence - 67% pic.twitter.com/R6Q7hY5Lft
Highest-graded QBs throwing past their first read in 2020:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 28, 2021
♨️ Zach Wilson, BYU - 94.7
♨️ Spencer Rattler, OU - 89.2
♨️ Justin Fields, OSU - 87.6 pic.twitter.com/Edu0dc0hUc
Justin Fields hold the ball longer than almost any QB in the Draft.— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 22, 2021
His 3.1 second avg time to throw is the 3rd slowest in his class. pic.twitter.com/bxtlYbmCyd
Accuracy from multiple arm slots (+++): https://t.co/7qMUqxLge2— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) July 7, 2020
If he can continue to work through his progressions quicker, Fields has the arm talent, athleticism, and potential to be a star at the NFL quarterback position in time—but not without risk, given the Colts’ incredibly high cost to trade up to select him.
It just depends on the Colts’ degree of conviction and willingness to go all in for Fields.