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Cleveland Doubles Up on Speedy Linebackers by Drafting WVU’s Tony Fields II

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After selecting Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round of the NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns decided to double up on linebackers Sunday and took West Virginia’s Tony Fields II in the fifth round.

At 6-foot-1 and around 220 pounds, both Owusu-Koramoah and Fields fit the mold of new-age linebackers that have entered the NFL over the last few years. Browns national scout Charles Walls said Fields’s speed and range is what impressed the organization enough to select him.

“First off, he’s explosive,” Walls said. “He’s rangy, he can get sideline to sideline. He gives us tremendous versatility and flexibility in our linebacking corps. As far as how he compares to Jeremiah, they both can run. We want to have guys that can cover the field and take the stress off of the first level and the third level.”

Fields was a three-year starter at Arizona before transferring to West Virginia prior to the 2020 season. In three years with the Wildcats, Fields racked up 287 total tackles, finishing first or second in stops on the team each year. He transitioned to will linebacker in WVU’s defense and did not miss a step. In just nine games, Fields led the Mountaineers with 88 total tackles, with one sack and an interception. Fields was named First-Team All-Big 12 following the season and won the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year award.

“I feel like I can play any position on a defense,” Fields said. “If you needed me to gain 70 more pounds, I’d gain it to play d-line…I can lose 30 pounds to play corner, whatever you need me to do, I’ll do…I feel that I’m a three-down linebacker just because I can play on third down, I can widen out in coverage and jam a slot if I have to. I can also play in the box, that’s what I’ve done in college.”

Fields ran a 4.5-second 40 at WVU’s pro day last month. Walls said picking two linebackers that fit the same mold was deliberate by the Browns to add more speed to their defense.

“If you look at successful teams, especially when they get into the playoffs, they have no lack of speed or lack of range anywhere on defense,” Walls said. “The more you can add to the group, the better. It can never hurt you having faster, more versatile players who can play football and hunt the ball and make plays.”

Fields said he liked that more and more NFL teams are starting to value speed and athleticism in linebackers.

“Everybody called me ‘undersized’ but I don’t think of myself like that and I for sure don’t play like that,” Fields said. “I love the fact that coaches are buying in, the whole league is eventually going to have to buy into these pass coverage linebackers because the league’s getting faster and it’s becoming a more and more passing game.”

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Cody spent the last two years getting his master's degree in journalism from WVU. He graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2018 with a degree in digital media production. He was born and raised in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

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