By almost all accounts, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is expected to be an early first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 21-year-old has an extraordinarily strong arm, is incredibly tough and has unnatural speed for his 6-foot-3, 227-pound frame.
However, one question Fields has had to answer throughout the draft process -- and likely will continue to have to answer until his name is called on April 29 -- is why Ohio State quarterbacks have struggled to find success at the NFL level in the past.
The Buckeyes have a long history of failed NFL quarterbacks, most recently with Dwayne Haskins being released by Washington 19 months after he was drafted 15th overall in 2019. Cardale Jones, Terrelle Pryor and Troy Smith all had chances to play QB in the NFL and failed to stick around, too.
Fields had his Pro Day on Tuesday, one he performed exceptionally well in. Afterward, though, the quarterback was asked why his alma mater has struggled to produce successful NFL passers.
"I'm not sure. I don't know those guys personally," Fields said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. "I don't know what they were taught."
Well, Fields at least knows Haskins personally, as the latter has referred to the former as his "little brother" in the past. Haskins also played a role in recruiting Fields to Ohio State when the QB transferred from Georgia following the 2018 season.
Fields did mention that what Haskins' learned at Ohio State is "a little similar" to what Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day taught him, but the likely top-10 pick feels that he's "different" than the former Washington QB and the other Buckeye quarterbacks that have come before him.
"In all honesty, I think I'm different than those guys," Fields said. "I know my work ethic is unmatched and just my dedication and my passion to wanting to be great is just another level."
Fields may have been Haskins' successor at Ohio State, but the two quarterbacks are different prospects with different strengths.
Haskins' arm talent might slightly outweigh Fields', but the latter is the more athletic of the two -- as seen by the reported 4.43 40-yard dash he ran on Tuesday. There are plenty of other differences, too, and both quarterbacks likely wouldn't ever be compared to one another had they gone to different schools.
Fields understands that he'll be asked the tough questions about past Buckeye quarterbacks throughout the draft process, but also knows that he is the "different" player than the rest of them like he says.
"In terms of the past quarterbacks, I can't control that," Fields said. "The only similarity that me and those guys have is that we wore the same uniform. ... I'm going to focus on myself and focus on continuing to get better in every aspect of the game."
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