Justin Fields smiled.
No, the throw he launched to receiver C.J. Saunders during Tuesday’s Ohio State Pro Day was not a pass he added as a reaction to seeing the gaga reaction to the same toss Zach Wilson of BYU made five days earlier.
As it turned out, Fields and Wilson trained together at 3DQB in Southern California and had similar scripts as to what they wanted to put on display for the assembled NFL coaches and scouts.
“I thought I could show that throw off and of course that’s what I showed,” Fields said of the roll-right, reverse pivot, drift to the left and fire across-the-body missile that traveled about 65 yards, hitting Saunders in stride.
It was an uber-impressive showing by Fields, with representatives from 31 teams — only the Rams were not in attendance — studying 15 Ohio State prospects inside Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The Jets, owners of the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, were there in force, with general manager Joe Douglas, assistant general manager Rex Hogan and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur watching every move by Fields.
By most accounts, Wilson did more than enough last week to convince the Jets he is their choice, their soon-to-be newest franchise quarterback. Did Fields do anything to give the Jets pause?
Shirtless and muscular at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44, the fastest time for a quarterback prepping for the draft since Robert Griffin III ran a 4.41 in 2012.
“I think everybody knows my goal in that 40-yard dash was to at least be in the 4.3s, but of course I’m mad about that,” Fields said. “Other than that, I thought I threw pretty well. Just had a few missed throws but that happens. Every Pro Day is not going to be perfect.”
This was darn good, though.
Fields in two seasons for the Buckeyes after transferring from Georgia passed for 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 49ers, with the No. 3 overall pick, could be his NFL destination, unless they opt for Alabama’s Mac Jones or perhaps Trey Lance of North Dakota State.
One knock on Fields has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the program that developed him. There is an underwhelming track record of Ohio State quarterbacks finding success at the next level. Before Dwayne Haskins in 2019, the Buckeyes did not have a quarterback taken in the first round since 1982.
Fields strongly distanced himself from the failures of past Buckeyes quarterbacks, including Haskins, a flop for Washington who is now with the Steelers.
“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.”