Justin Fields checked plenty of boxes with his Pro Day performance on Tuesday.
Even given the obvious caveats that these drills are scripted to make prospects look good and that everyone looks better in shorts, this was darn impressive on multiple levels:
— NFL (@NFL) March 30, 2021
Athleticism. Arm strength. The ability to make off-platform throws. It was all on display for Fields, one of the best quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
And yet, it was something that Fields said after showcasing his skills that caught my attention:
Re-watching NFL Network's coverage of Ohio State's Pro Day and something Justin Fields said made my ears perk up.
An exchange between Fields & reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala: pic.twitter.com/PQrHUs9fXN
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 31, 2021
If you think that sounds familiar, then know that you’re not alone. In fact, these words likely sound familiar to you because you remember Deshaun Watson echoing a similar sentiment before the 2017 Draft when buzz was that Mitchell Trubisky would go ahead of him.
“You’re gonna have to live with the consequences that come with it. That’s how I see it,” Watson said, via NFL.com. “I try to stay in my lane. I try not to take the path. I respect Mitch and what he’s done and all the hype he’s getting, but at the same time, my result speaks for itself. I feel like I’ve accomplished everything that I could. I guess if that’s who they’re gonna roll with, so be it.”
That Mac Jones, like Trubisky, has limited collegiate college experience is the comp here is eerie and it gives me chills. Now, to be fair, Jones and Trubisky are different prospects and players. Perhaps, more importantly, their college experiences were different. And that’s important to remember when trying to dissect this pre-draft stuff.
Jones’ 2020 season at Alabama was far more accomplished than Trubisky’s 2016 with North Carolina. Remember, Jones won the Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas, and Manning Awards that are given out to top college quarterbacks. Jones also earned first-team All-SEC and Consensus All-American honors. Statistically, Jones’ 4,500-yard, 41-touchdown, 4-interception season is far superior to Trubisky’s 3,748-yard, 30-touchdown, 6-interception campaign.
All that to say: Fields really threw down the gauntlet. And if history is an indicator of what is to come, then teams needing quarterbacks should heed what Fields said.