The Browns on Saturday selected West Virginia LB Tony Fields II in the fifth round with the No. 153 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Fields spent his first three seasons at Arizona before transferring to West Virginia. He emerged as an immediate starter with the Mountaineers and won Big New Defensive Newcomer of the Year after leading the Big 12 in tackles per game (9.8). He finished the season with 88 tackles to lead the Mountaineers and added an interception.
"He's explosive, he's rangy," Browns national scout Charles Walls said. "He can get sideline to sideline in both phases. He just gives us tremendous versatility and flexibility in our linebacker core.
"We want to have guys that can come on the field and take stress off the first level and third level. So we think he brings tremendous value to us."
Fields is the second linebacker selected by the Browns in the 2021 NFL Draft, joining second-rounder Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Both players check in at weights below the norm in the NFL, but Walls said the norm is evolving.
"Good players are still going to be good players," Walls said. "You still have linebackers out there that might not be the fastest or the most rangy but there's a place for everybody. I think really just in the same way that offenses have the ball with different players at different sizes and skill sets, I think defense is evolving the same way. So we're just adding to the firepower."
Fields was a regular starter for all four years of his college career. He notched 37 starts at Arizona and racked up a combined 287 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Fields earned Freshman All-American honors from ESPN.com when he recorded 104 tackles in 2017.
"I fly to the ball," Fields said. "I am one of those guys that is an ambassador of hard work when I get on the football field. I get out there and put my all into no matter what I am doing. If I am going to the ball I am trying to get an interception. Just being a pillar, I am going to give you my all and that is how I play the game."
Fields is the sixth player to join the Browns through the 2021 NFL Draft. Northwestern CB Greg Newsome (1st Round, No. 26) was selected Thursday, Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (2nd round, No. 52) and Auburn WR Anthony Schwartz (3rd Round, No. 91) were added to the roster Friday and Cincinnati T James Hudson (4th round, No. 110) and Ohio State DT Tommy Togiai (4th round, No. 132) were selected earlier Saturday.
"It is great. I am blessed," Fields said. "Everybody called me undersized or whatever you want to say about it but I do not think of myself like that and I for sure do not play like that, I never will play like I am undersized. I love the fact that coaches are buying in. The whole league is eventually going to have to buy into these passing coverage linebackers because the league is getting faster and it is becoming more and more a passing game."
The Browns hold two more picks on Day 3, including one more in the fifth round (169) and a sixth-rounder (211).