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Justin Fields trying to show he's more than just fast

Justin Fields

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields had what most would describe as an excellent pro day workout Tuesday.

He wasn't as thrilled about it as others might have been, however.

Fields said he was a little disappointed he didn't run his 40-yard dash faster — it was merely blazing at 4.44 — but that seemed like a bit of a quibble after what he's shown.

"I think overall I had a solid day," Fields said. "Of course, I think everybody knows my goal in that 40-yard dash was to at least be in the 4.3s. I'm kind of mad about that. But other than that, I thought I threw pretty well. I had a few missed throws, but that happens. Every throw is not going to be perfect."

Fields hasn't always been perfect, but he has shown a knack for showing up at the right times.

He might never have been better than in the national semifinal game against Clemson last year, with a six-touchdown dissection of the Tigers defense, on a night when he played through a painful rib injury.

"You look at what Justin brings to the table with his, first of all, let's start with his toughness, we saw that in the Clemson game," NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "That's nothing to be diminished there. He is extremely tough. You look at somebody that can make those throws, make every throw, somebody that is a dynamic runner, obviously, that's a big plus for him."

Of course, questions persist about Fields' ability to make it translate to the NFL level.

Perhaps because he's so good with his feet (Jeremiah called him a "home run hitter" as a runner), there's a natural tendency to diminish what he can do as a passer. He did complete 70.2 percent of his passes last year, throwing 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions in eight games.

Fields maintained that he didn't pay too much attention to such criticisms, saying "my dedication and my passion to be great comes from within."

"There's no issue because I know what I do on the field," Fields said. "We have a lot of reads where the progressions are across the board, where I'm going from one to two to three to four. . . .

"We have some of the best receivers in the country, so if my first or second read is there, I'm not going to pass up that first or second read to get to my third or fourth or fifth reads to prove I can pass my first or second read. I'm just not going to do that. That's not going to put my team in the best position to win, and that's just being selfish to show people that I can do it."

The Panthers were there in Columbus, Ohio to see for themselves, with head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer among those in attendance. Considering Rhule's background with Buckeyes coach Ryan Day (they worked together at Temple), it's safe to say he's getting a good scouting report on the quarterback, part of the extensive work they've done on the position.

Where Fields falls in the hierarchy of quarterbacks remains to be seen.

Because he once attended a quarterback camp with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, some have connected the dots with the team that just traded up for the third overall pick. But Shanahan was at Alabama's pro day Tuesday watching quarterback Mac Jones, so some think Jones is the one headed to San Francisco.

With Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and BYU's Zach Wilson apparently pegged in the top two spots, there's some degree of mystery about where Fields will end up, relative to Jones and North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

What's certain is that Fields is going to get there in a hurry, and that he's capable of big plays when he gets there.

View AP photos from Ohio State's pro day on Tuesday, including quarterback Justin Fields.

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