Ohio State star Justin Fields has reportedly seen his stock slip due to questions about his work ethic.
ESPN's Dan Orlovsky discussed the issues Wednesday on The Pat McAfee Show:
Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow
I've been very befuddled about how Justin Fields has gone from being an ABSOLUTE stud to his draft stock dropping Numerous media people are being told by numerous decision-makers that they aren't sold on his passion, could all be bullshit though #PatMcAfeeShowLIVE https://t.co/mYFnrMm8XZ
As Bucky Brooks of NFL Network noted, these types of critiques have historically and disproportionally come against Black quarterbacks:
Bucky Brooks @BuckyBrooks
These media narratives created from anonymous sources impact the perception of Black QBs. Fair or not, these labels stick & impact how fan bases view QB prospects beyond the pre-draft process. It’s all good to offer critiques but it would be nice to see non-stereotypical analysis
Jim Trotter of NFL.com also argued race plays a factor when evaluating top quarterbacks in the draft in a 2020 essay, with longtime Colts executive Bill Polian's pre-draft criticism of Lamar Jackson serving as one of the most stark examples in recent years.
The on-field talent with Fields is obvious after he threw 63 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions over his last two years with Ohio State, also adding 15 rushing scores in this time. He showcased his athleticism at his pro day Tuesday by running the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds.
Meanwhile, any potential doubt about his toughness and character was seemingly answered during the College Football Playoff when he suffered a brutal rib injury but remained in the game to defeat Clemson.
"He's very, very competitive," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said of Fields, per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN. "So when you combine the talent, the size, the arm strength, his competitiveness, his toughness, his intelligence, it kind of checks all the boxes. If you were trying to design a quarterback, to me, Justin fits that prototype."
"Everything you invest in that kid, you're going to get back," Day added.
In eight games during the 2020 season, Fields completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns while racking up 383 yards and five additional scores on the ground.