CHICAGO, Illinois (WCMH) — The Chicago Bears selected Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick on Thursday in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chicago traded up from 20th overall with the New York Giants to select Fields, who is the highest Ohio State QB selected since 1982 when the Baltimore Colts took Art Schlichter 4th overall.
Fields and Ohio State football coach Ryan Day spoke with members of the media Friday about the Bears taking one of the most successful Buckeyes’ quarterbacks in team history.
“I expect myself to be a franchise quarterback and one day hopefully a top five quarterback in this league,” Fields said. “I’m going to work to reach my goal and reach new heights.”
While Fields is only the fourth quarterback in Ohio State history to be drafted in the first round, three other QBs were selected ahead of him: #1 Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville), #2 Zack Wilson (New York Jets), and #3 Trey Lance (San Francisco).
“He has a quiet confidence that permeates around the locker room. You can feel it, you can see it and I think when you get on the field, the guys believe in him because he can do so much,” Day said. “He demands the respect of the team because of who he is, his character, his talent level, what he does on the field but then also how he carries himself.”
Perhaps no player was more scrutinized than Fields during the draft process from people questioning his ability to play at a high level to saying he doesn’t love football.
“There was some things said that of course weren’t true but at this point for me at least the draft is over,” Fields said. “My focus now is turning to how can I help the Chicago Bears win, so I’m not really worried about what was said in the past.”
Fields also spoke for the first time about managing epilepsy after the NFL Network reported he was answering questions from NFL personnel about having the disorder. Fields said he was diagnosed with epilepsy in the 9th grade after having a seizure in school.
“It has had zero affect on football. I haven’t missed any practices, any games because of it and it’s pretty simple for me to manage,” Fields said.
Day said he believes Fields’ game will transfer well to the NFL after seeing his growth at Ohio State during the past two seasons.
“We have an NFL-style offense and he really grabbed on to that,” Day said. “I think the first thing for him was just the work in the classroom, understanding protections, route structures, defensive structures, how teams would try to attack him . . . and so I think that was part of his evolution.”
Day added Fields will be able to adjust the pace of the NFL because of his intelligence and physical skills.
“He’s super athletic and he will adjust with what he needs to adjust with,” Day said. “The thing about him is if maybe it’s not working, he’ll get it solved quickly. The thing I always go back to is he’s never not succeeded in his life at what he’s really set his mind to.”
Fields never missed a game at Ohio State and only came off the field a couple of times, including the shot he took to his ribs against Clemson in the 2021 College Football Playoff semifinal and a helmet he took to his knee against Michigan in 2019 resulting in a sprained MCL. In both instances, Fields returned to the game, threw a touchdown a few plays later and proceeded to pick apart both defenses in landslide wins for the Buckeyes.
“That’s his competitive toughness and when you’re projecting somebody into the NFL, you better be tough. You better be physically tough and mentally tough,” Day said. “He’s mentally and physically tough.”
Fields is now the second Ohio State quarterback to be drafted in the top 15 after Dwayne Haskins was selected 15th overall by Washington in 2019.