ESPN Draft Expert Mel Kiper Lists Justin Fields As No. 3 Prospect For 2021


It was less than two weeks ago that the 2020 NFL draft was put to bed with three Buckeyes, Chase Young, Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette, all taken in the first round. According to ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper's very early look at 2021, it looks like at least three more Buckeyes could be first rounders. Kiper released his first 'Big Board' for next year's draft and quarterback Justin Fields is listed as his No. 3 ranked prospect, defensive back Shaun Wade is No. 6 and receiver Chris Olave is No. 20. There's obviously a long way to go, but Kiper indicated, on ESPN's "Get Up" show Tuesday morning, that Fields has a chance to be the first pick. Currently he has Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence No. 1 with Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell ranked 2nd. Kiper said Fields right now is "very close" to overtaking Lawrence as the top QB prospect and potentially becoming next year's No. 1 pick.

"Fields had a phenomenal year," Kiper said. "Nothing bothered him. He was never flustered. He never looked like he was pressing and trying to do too much. The game comes to him, he's relaxed out there, he gives you that dual threat ability...Justin Fields will be right there with Trevor Lawrence when it's all said and done."

During his interview on 'Get Up,' Kiper said that Ohio State "had Clemson beaten" in the Fiesta Bowl, until Shaun Wade was ejected for targeting. Wade is listed by Kiper as the top ranked defensive back in the 2021 draft class. He could be the latest Buckeye DB to go high. In the draft two weeks ago, Okudah, taken 3rd overall by Detroit and Arnette, 19th by the Raiders, were the seventh and eighth Ohio State defensive backs to go in the first round in the last seven drafts.

Below is Kiper's "Get Up" interview, where he talks at length about the possibility of Fields overtaking Lawrence as the top quarterback. That is followed by Kiper's written evaluations of Fields, Wade and Olave.

Kiper's Written Evaluations

On Fields: "Fields is a legitimate challenger to Lawrence as the top quarterback in this class. The Georgia transfer got immediate eligibility to play in 2019, and he put up huge numbers, finishing third in the Heisman Trophy voting. Fields threw 41 touchdown passes with just three interceptions and added 10 rushing TDs. He was incredibly efficient last season, and he made it look easy. Fields has room to improve, though, in how he sees the field and progresses through his reads. Two of his three picks came in the College Football Playoff game against Clemson...There’s a lot to like here about Fields as prospect, and I’m looking forward to seeing another full season from him.”

On Wade: "On a defense that just had two first-round corners in Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette, Wade played mostly in the slot, but his athleticism popped when I studied the Buckeyes. He’s going to move outside in 2020, but the versatility to move inside or outside is an asset as he transitions to the NFL. Wade has four interceptions over the past two seasons, and he also picked up two sacks in 2019. He is going to be the man in the new-look Ohio State secondary this season.”

On Olave: "With K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack all off to the NFL, it’s the Olave show for the Buckeyes in 2020. He caught 49 passes for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He tracks the deep ball well and made a few spectacular plays...He’s going to have a big year while catching passes from Justin Fields.”