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Ryan Day Comments On Justin Fields' NFL Future

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day.

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 28: Head coach Ryan Day of the Ohio State Buckeyes waits with his team to take the field before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

At one point during the 2020 college football season, there was a case to be made for Justin Fields as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Since then though, the Ohio State quarterback's draft stock has plummeted. Some analysts even have Fields falling as low as the late teens or early 20s -- claiming he'll be the third or fourth QB selected.

During a spring season press conference on Wednesday, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day addressed the criticisms of Fields as an NFL prospect.

While Fields may not be the "prototypical" NFL QB, the fourth-year OSU coach believes his former signal caller can make plays at any level.

“Whatever NFL team asks him to do, he will learn it very, very quickly," Day said. "One thing he’s gonna do is he’s gonna make a lot of plays. When you look back on his career here and what he did, he made a lot of plays. This is the time of year in the NFL draft where people are gonna go after you and try to find your warts. That’s fine. And they may find something that’s really perfect for their system and they might wanna find someone who really fits into a box.

“I can promise you this, Justin Fields is gonna make plays in the NFL. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, you can’t put a value on that – his ability to make plays. He’s done it with space, with his feet, making throws down the field, those things are gonna continue to happen at that level. Again, I always think great coaching is adjusting your scheme to the personnel that you have, and some team’s gonna get very lucky by drafting him.”

Through two season with Ohio State, Fields made that playmaking ability abundantly clear -- throwing for 5,373 yards and 63 touchdowns. During his first full season as a starter in 2020, the junior QB put together a Heisman Trophy-caliber body of work as he led the Buckeyes to their second straight College Football Playoff.

His single-game effort in a Sugar Bowl win over No. 2 Clemson solidified himself as a top QB prospect -- at least for a short period of time. Battling through a rib injury early on the game, Fields threw 22/28 for 385 yards and a whopping six touchdowns.

So with this incredible collegiate resume, what's holding the Buckeyes QB back in the draft rankings?

So far, the biggest knock on Fields is his perceived inability to work his way through receiver progressions. Day responded to those criticisms directly, siting OSU's offensive scheme as the reasoning for his QB's one-track approach.

“I don’t really think much about them,” Day said. “I don’t really listen to any of them because when I coached in the NFL and coached quarterbacks in the NFL, I would listen to guys speak and have my opinions on the quarterbacks that I would study and then I would listen to what they say and some guys were really accurate and some guys weren’t even close. So I get it. They all have a job to do. But some of that stuff, I don’t really put much stock into.

“I think when you look at Justin’s body of work, when you’re throwing to Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and some of the guys we have and the first read is open a lot, that’s not his fault. You know what I mean? There’s a reason we put certain plays in, and if the first read is to go to Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave – we have a lot of receivers who are really good – that’s where the ball goes. Part of that is good recruiting, some of it’s good game planning, whatever. But there was a lot of times where Justin got back to two, three and sometimes four, five. He has the ability to do that. He’s very, very intelligent; really sharp. It doesn’t take much for him to learn a play and get it.”

The 2021 NFL Draft is set for April 29 through May 1.