Ohio State’s Justin Fields continues to be the most scrutinized quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft class.  

Fields’ work ethic was questioned in March, which prompted a strong rebuttal from Ohio State coach Ryan Day. The notion that Fields is a “one-read quarterback” was dissected. This week, Fields revealed that he is managing epilepsy — a neurological disorder which can cause seizures.  

None of those factors prevented Fields from being one of the best quarterbacks in college football the last two seasons. He passed for 5,373 yards, 63 TDs and nine interceptions and rushed for 817 yards and 15 TDs in leading the Buckeyes to back-to-back CFP appearances. 

MORE NFL DRAFT: Complete 7-round mock | Top 100 big board

It likely won’t impact his NFL Draft status too much either. Sporting News’ latest mock draft has the Broncos trading up to get Fields with the No. 4 pick. The Falcons and 49ers also are logical landing spots within the top-10 picks.  

From there, Fields can achieve a breakthrough that would benefit Day and the Buckeyes at both levels. Ohio State has not produced too many quarterbacks who have had prolonged success at the NFL level.  

A total of 15 quarterbacks have been selected in the common draft era starting with Rex Kern in 1971. Terrelle Pryor was a NFL supplemental draft pick in 2011.  

Six of those quarterbacks never took a snap in a regular-season game. Rex Kern, the quarterback of the 1968 national championship team, switched to defensive back. Here is a look at the quarterbacks from Ohio State and their career numbers in the NFL:  

Ohio State QBs in the NFL  

YEAR NAME ROUND RECORD CAREER STATISTICS
1982 Art Schlichter 1 0-6 1,006 yards, 3 TDs, 11 INTs
1985 Mike Tomczak* FA 42-31 16,079 yards, 88 TDs, 106 INTs
1988 Tom Tupa 3 4-9 3,430 yards, 12 TDs, 25 INTs
1992 Kent Graham 8 17-21 7,801 yards, 39 TDs, 33 INTs
1996 Bobby Hoying 3 3-9-1 2,544 yards, 11 TDs, 15 INTs
1999 Joe Germaine 4 0-0 136 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs
2004 Craig Krenzel 5 3-2 718 yards, 3 TDs, 6 INTs
2007 Troy Smith 5 4-4 1,734 yards, 8 TDs, 5 INTs
2011 Terrelle Pryor** 3 3-7 1,994 yards, 9 TDs, 12 INTs
2016 Cardale Jones 4 0-0 96 yards, 0 TDs 1 INT
2019 Dwayne Haskins 1 3-10 2,804 yards, 12 TDs, 14 INTs

*Denotes undrafted free agent  
**Denotes supplemental draft pick
  

Schlichter and Haskins are the bookend first-round picks, and both struggled with those high expectations. Tupa played punter for most of his career. Krenzel and Jones won national championships, and Smith won the Heisman Trophy, but they combined for 13 starts in the NFL.  

Tomczak, who was an undrafted free agent, had the most success. Graham is the only other quarterback with more than 20 starts at the NFL level.  

Knowing that track record, it’s OK to take a closer look at Haskins, who started in Urban Meyer’s final season with Day at offensive coordinator, and Fields, who is Day’s first starter as a head coach.  

Haskins, who was released by Washington last season and picked up by Pittsburgh, faced this same criticism after a banner season at Ohio State in 2018 in which he finished with 4,831 yards, 50 TDs and eight interceptions. Haskins still has time to revive his career, but that flop in Washington has led to some unfair residual questions about Fields, too. 

MORE: Justin Fields among riskiest picks of the 2021 NFL Draft

When will an Ohio State quarterback have prolonged success in the NFL?   

Ohio State also can loosely claim Joe Burrow – but he emerged as a standout quarterback at LSU before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft with the Bengals. Fields is the one that can change that stigma about Buckeyes quarterbacks in the NFL, however, and it can have an impact at both levels.  

If Fields has success, then that will benefit Day, who is entering his third year at Ohio State with a three-way quarterback race among C.J. Stroud, Jack Miller and five-star freshman Kyle McCord.  

Another five-star freshman – Quinn Ewers – is committed to the class of 2022. Fields could be the launchpad for a QB-to-the-NFL pipeline like what Lincoln Riley has developed at Oklahoma with Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts and next-man-up Spencer Rattler. Clemson and Alabama have first-round quarterbacks in this draft, too, with Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones, respectively.  

That is the real development worth watching. Which college football powerhouse can produce the best NFL quarterbacks in the future?  

That is the question Fields can answer over the next few years.



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