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Ex-NFL scouts reveal takeaways from Justin Fields debut

When the subject of the 2021 NFL Draft is broached, three quarterbacks dominate the conversation. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance figure to be the top quarterbacks off the board next spring.

Lawrence and Lance had 2020 game film to their credit coming into last week. Fields, meanwhile, made his season debut after the Big Ten Conference delayed the start of its season by seven weeks.

Fields shined in Ohio State’s 52-17 season-opening win over Nebraska. The Heisman Trophy candidate completed 20-of-21 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Former NFL scouts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah both came away impressed with Fields’ debut performance.

“Against Nebraska, I mean look, the dude was 20-of-21,” Brooks said this week on the Move the Sticks podcast. “He’s very efficient, he showed that he could run the ball and do all the things that you want to see the athletic quarterback do in today’s game. The connection that he had with two of the receivers at Ohio State [he had two receivers go over 100 yards], he was dialed in. I think Ohio State certainly kept practicing during this time and I felt like the sharpness that we saw from him was a reflection of that compared to what we saw from [North Dakota State quarterback] Trey Lance where they said it was kinda stop-start, they didn’t do it the whole time. And [Ohio State] didn’t skip a beat when they had a chance to get on the field.”

Brooks also commented on Fields potentially closing the gap on Lawerence as the top-rated quarterback entering next year’s draft.

“This reminds me a little bit of a race, a track and field race, maybe the 400,” Brooks said. “So in the 400, because of the distance, you have to stagger the lanes. I feel like for Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence has been in lane 5 and he’s in lane 4. So Trevor Lawrence is already out there, he’s taken off and he’s running. And so Justin Fields has to figure out is there a way for me to make up the stagger. And I’ll say this: these guys have forever been linked together. From high school, they were always No. 1 and No. 2, both guys flipping times as No. 1 and the No. 2 guy. And I think it will continue to be that way. Trevor Lawrence is a fantastic prospect but I think Justin Fields is also a fantastic prospect.”

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Jeremiah watched game film from Fields’ game against Nebraska and explained what stood out to him about the Buckeyes’ star.

“It was impressive,” Jeremiah said. “You go back and watch the tape, some of the things I wrote down: obviously the size, the athletic ability, the physicality, the velocity was outstanding, really pushing the ball outside the numbers. Some big-time throws there. The accuracy, the ball placement. The accuracy was good, the completion percentage was off the charts. Even on the one that was incomplete, it was actually dropped, it was a good throw. He forced one, got bailed out by a penalty, but overall I thought the accuracy was good. The guy shouldn’t have had an incompletion the entire day so you feel good about that.”

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