Justin Fields pro day was impressive, it was always going to be impressive because Justin Fields is an impressive quarterback.
As Fields unloaded gem after gem, showing accuracy, touch and strength on a number of routes, Jets GM Joe Douglas, Assistant GM Rex Hogan and Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur stood back and watched. Chances are Fields just proved what they already knew, but was it enough to be the pick at #2?
Over the course of the off-season the Zach Wilson to the Jets talk has picked up steam, it’s easy to see why. He’s a very impressive QB with a ton of talent and that off-platform creativity that so many people look for in a modern QB. At the moment people are taking it as a given that Wilson will be the pick, chances are he will be. However, for a team that has allowed zero leaks all off-season to the point where the beat have no scoop on signings, are we really that confident that Wilson is the guy?
I don’t think Justin Fields pro-day changed the minds of anyone. If you draft based on a pro-day you’re probably not very good at your job. However, they would have loved the way the ball came out of his hand, in a perfect spiral. They would have loved that 4.4 speed. They would have loved his ability to throw on the move considering the system we’ll be running, and they would have loved his accuracy. Basically, his pro-day backed up everything we saw on tape.
Fields has faced criticism throughout the off-season, and in my personal opinion it’s lazy criticism. People have said he can’t work through his progressions, which is a bogus narrative that has picked up steam. When asked about it Fields said “If my first or second read is open why would i go to my 3rd, 4th, or 5th. I’m not going to do it just to prove I can” which is absolutely right. His head coach Ryan Day wasn’t too happy with the criticism either, asking people to watch the Clemson game where Fields got to his 5th read on more than one occasion. Day commented that there are those that watch tape, and those that just repeated other peoples opinions as facts, hinting that the increase in criticism is unwarranted and based on whispers.
Justin Fields is dropping dimes at his pro day. This one is gorgeous.pic.twitter.com/z2IfVGwdcx— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) March 30, 2021
I’ve been an ardent defender of Justin Fields throughout the off-season. I went back and watched every throw from 2019 and 2020, and came away as impressed the 2nd time as I was the first time. He’s not perfect, he can hold onto the ball too long sometimes, but no QB in this draft class is perfect. He wasn’t great against Northwestern but he was great against Clemson and he was much better than the stats indicate against Alabama. He’s not the only top prospect to have bad games, Trevor Lawrence started the 2019 season with 5 TD’s to 5 INT’s through the first three games.
The Jets would have already gone through their evaluation, the pro-days are perfect for speaking to the prospects and getting a look at their medicals. They have zoom calls set up to go through plays and break down how a QB reads a defense, an area I think all the top QB’s will excel in this year. People have said that Fields doesn’t know how to read a defense, which is absolutely rubbish, Fields has proven time and time again that he can read and react based on what the defense is showing him.
The third and final criticism of Fields is that he comes from Ohio State, a school that doesn’t produce QB’s at the NFL level. Which is such a strange argument to me, because I can’t remember Texas Tech producing great QB’s before Patrick Mahomes. Fields was asked about that very question after his pro-day and he gave the perfect response:
“I don’t know those guys personally, I don’t know their work-ethic,” Fields said. “I don’t know what they were taught. I know Dwayne got taught a little bit similar to what coach [Ryan] Day was teaching, but in all honesty, I think I’m different than those guys. I know my work ethic is unmatched, and just my dedication and my passion of wanting to be great is just another level. In terms of the past quarterbacks, I can’t control that, and of course the only similarity that me and those guys have is we wore the same uniform.”
Chances are that Fields pro-day wouldn’t have made too much of a difference to the Jets thinking. Chances are that the Jets had an idea who they were taking before Zach Wilson’s and Justin Fields pro-days, chances are they’re still taking that guy. Personally, I think it’ll be Wilson and I’d be happy with that. If we decided to go with Fields, I’d be happy with that too. The Jets are in a great position, they need a QB, they have the pick to get a good one.
Whether you prefer Wilson, Fields or Trey Lance, you can support one without putting the other down. There can be more than 1-2 great QB’s in a class. Look at the 1983 class, or the 2004 class.
It’s an exciting time to be a Jets fan.