The New England Patriots will get another close look at one of the premier quarterback prospects in this year’s draft. Projected top-10 selection Justin Fields will hold his second Pro Day at Ohio State today, and the Patriots are sending some of their most experienced talent evaluators.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be among the Patriots present for the session, according to a report by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, as will be assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler and national scout Matt Groh.
Even with head coach/general manager Bill Belichick not expected in Columbus, New England will therefore get a close and diverse look at Fields after already attending his first Pro Day last month. Back then, New England employed scouting consultant Eliot Wolf and an area scout — presumably midwest scout D.J. Debick — to keep a close eye on one of the premier quarterback talents available in this year’s draft.
Sending McDaniels, Ziegler and Groh is not expected to be the only change this time around, though.
Whereas traditional Pro Days are scripted by a player’s throwing coach — in Fields’ case former NFL quarterback John Beck — the tentative plan at the moment is for the NFL personnel present to play a more active role in running the session. Considering that private workouts are not permitted this offseason due to Covid-19 protocols, this might give teams such as New England a more extensive look at the 22-year-old.
Fields himself is entering this year’s draft as a member of the top-five quarterbacks, all of which expected to come off the board in the first round in two weeks. Projected number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) as well as Fields, Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State) and Mac Jones (Alabama) are also part of this group.
The Patriots have scouted all of them extensively during the pre-draft process. The aforementioned Eliot Wolf visited Wilson’s Pro Day at BYU, while Matt Groh was in Fargo to scout Lance. Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick, meanwhile, attended Mac Jones’ second throwing session in Tuscaloosa last week.
New England taking a close look at the passers available in the first round this year is not a surprise. The Patriots, after all, are in need of a long-term solution at the most important position on the field — something team owner Robert Kraft acknowledged during a media conference call last month.
When it comes to Fields, he projects to be a viable candidate to be brought aboard early via the draft. However, New England might have to move up the board from its current slot at No. 15 overall in order to get in a position to select him.
After all, Fields projects to be a popular player come the first day of the draft. The expected visitors at his second throwing session are just the latest example of that. Besides the Patriots’ entourage, the San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons will send high-ranking personnel to watch him throw.
Among them are 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, Panthers head coach Joe Brady, and Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London.