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Washington Redskins UDFA profile - Shay ‘Big Play’ Fields, WR, Colorado

Fields had several show-stopping games in college, including a 168-yard, two-touchdown performance against Arizona and a 169-yard, three-touchdown performance over Oregon State. If he can regain the big play potential from his sophomore and junior seasons, the Redskins could end up with a steal at the receiver position.

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The 5-11 185 lb Shay Fields is Colorado’s best receiver, [and] knows how to get separation. Fields has deadly speed. Managed to pick apart some of USC’s best corners in 2016 like Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall. He’s a safe prospect, but may have a limited upside. I see a #5 receiver that could be effective in a depth role.

— Chris Ransom

He started strong because at one point he was considered a fourth round prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft, but chose to return to school so with a big season he could move into day 2 territory.

— Draft Utopia

NCAA Football: California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

A receiver who can stretch the field and make plays

Fields crafted a reputation as a dynamic receiver in 2016; the Denver Post published an article this week that started out with a look back at Shay’s highlight year as a junior:

In 2016, Colorado started its unlikely road to the Pac-12 South championship by beating Oregon on the road to open conference play, and then smashing Oregon State at home two weeks later.

In that 47-6 blowout of the Beavers junior wideout Shay Fields lived up to his “Big Play Shay” nickname, hauling in seven catches for 169 yards that included three long touchdowns. It was a performance that indicated Fields — who signed a free agent contract with the Redskins last weekend after going undrafted — possessed the capability to get a chance at the next level.

“He was on fire that game — they couldn’t tackle him and they couldn’t cover him because he was dynamic in space,” said Darrin Chiaverini, CU’s offensive coordinator/wideouts coach. “He was being the player that I knew he was, because even though that day he had a big touchdown line, he’s consistently had those games over the past few years where he’s made a bunch of game-changing plays.”

That same article goes on to highlight Shay Fields’ speed (4.46 in his pro-day 40), making him sound a lot like his fellow CU alumnus and Redskin, Paul Richardson (who ran a 4.4):

Fields turned in gaudy numbers as a four-year starter at CU, ranking second in program history in receiving yards (2,552), third in receptions (190) and tied for third in receiving touchdowns (21) with NFL veteran Paul Richardson, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Redskins in March. That means Richardson will be on hand to mentor Fields in training camp in a continuation of a football relationship that has its roots in southern California, where both wideouts grew up.

So, the Redskins will have two former Colorado receivers in training camp this off-season, and they have a lot of similarities — both of them were signed as free agents, both are about the same height and weight, with speed to burn, and both put up gaudy yards-per-catch numbers.

Paul Richardson, of course, was the only ‘splash’ veteran free agent signing of the 2018 off-season, securing a 5 year, $40m contract, securing his place on the roster this season.

Shay Fields is an undrafted college free agent who had a pretty productive college career, but is just about the farthest thing possible from a roster lock. Like most UDFAs, Fields faces an uphill battle this offseason.

A look at the numbers

Averaging just under 50 receptions per season, with a typical average of about 14 yard-per-reception, Fields put up 2,590 yards and 21 touchdowns in his 4-year college career, with his junior year being the most statistically impressive.

He probably should have entered the draft a year ago

Shay Fields is a guy who might’ve done himself a disservice by going back to Colorado for his senior year. Draft Utopia said that he was a 4th round prospect at the end of his junior year with the Buffaloes, and — in May last year — The Ralphie Report (CU’s SB Nation website) listed Fields as one of the Buffaloes who would “hear their names called” at the NFL Draft:

Shay Fields [is a] flat out playmaker. “Big Play” Shay led the Buffs in receiving yards (845) last season and has nine career plays of 50 yards or longer. Could stand to put on a little weight, but the NFL team that drafts him next April is getting a true deep threat.

Shay Fields failed to make the jump to the next level as a senior. In fact, his production regressed to about the level of his 2015 sophomore campaign. The idea of turning himself into a Friday draft pick instead of Saturday slipped away, and Shay Fields didn’t hear his phone ring until after the Redskins spent the last pick of the draft on Trey Quinn, “Mr. Irrelevant”.

Northern Colorado v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

But Fields has an opportunity to develop his game alongside Paul Richardson, and potentially make a career for himself in the NFL.

Fields said he’ll “do whatever I can to help my team” in a bid to make the Redskins’ roster. That probably starts with special teams play. What he really longs to do, though, is prove he can stretch the field and make big plays with his 4.43 40-yard dash speed.

“If Shay can get the opportunity this preseason to show off his big play ability, that’s going to bode well for him making the team,” said Darrin Chiaverini, CU’s offensive coordinator/wideouts coach. “He has to establish himself as one of those explosive wideouts at that level, and he has all the tools to do it.”


What does our own Gibbs4potus have to say about Fields after watching him on film?

Colorado ran a 4 wide offense for about 80-90% of their snaps; Shay Fields was usually lined up to the far right, but sometimes was in the slot to the right. He was rarely lined up to the left of the quarterback.

Fields is a hard player to analyze because of that offense, and because he wasn’t always in the camera shot when the camera was to his side of the field. When Fields was blocking, he was often obstructed, as the camera would zoom into the tackle box to get a close up of the action.

Fields has good speed at 4.43 in the 40 yard dash. He was able to get deep on occasion for the Buffaloes. In general though, Fields didn’t get a lot of separation on his routes.

NCAA Football: Colorado at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Fields may have been held back some by the offense at Colorado. They had a simple combination of routes for him. His quarterback, Steve Montez, also had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and then run around with no real attention directed to whether his receivers had come open.

Man, I read that, and I think about Jay Gruden scheming to get receivers open and wonder if Fields may have made the right choice about where to sign as an undrafted free agent.

When Colorado ran the ball to his side of the field, Fields would hold his block but they didn’t run his direction often. Fields was inconsistent with his blocking when the ball carrier ran in between the tackles, which was the majority of the run plays. Lining up so far away from the action probably contributed to some disinterested blocking attempts.

“Disinterested blocking attempts”... that reminds me of someone, but I can’t think who it might be.

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Fields production didn’t show up in most of the games I watched. Since Fields only had one cutup on youtube and it was from 2016, I looked at those of Colorado RB, Phillip Lindsay. The only one of those games that Fields produced well in was vs Arizona State in 2017.

Fields had productive games early in the season against Colorado State, Texas State and Northern Colorado. During the PAC 12 season in 2017, Fields had little production except vs California and the Arizona State game.

I recommend watching the ASU matchup if interested in watching Fields play. Colorado rotated their receivers often so look for him with his undershirt hanging out to spot him quickly. Fields caught a long touchdown pass late in the third quarter. The camera was focused on the quarterback until he released the ball making it hard to tell how Fields got wide open.

How will he fit with the Redskins?

Like most of the Redskin’s rookie class, seeing Fields in action during practice and the preseason games will be important. The Colorado offense didn’t really prepare Fields well for the Redskins but he may be a raw talent who could blossom in the NFL.

However, I didn’t see Fields perform well enough in the game tape. I think he will struggle to make the practice squad and has very little chance of making the roster.

Bill-in-Bangkok takes the last word

I think the key for Shay Fields is going to be how well he takes coaching and how well he adapts to the scheme. He has speed; he has decent college production; he has a mentor in Paul Richardson, and he has a coach in Jay Gruden that should enjoy having him on the team and know how to use him.

I’m a bit more optimistic about “Big Play Shay” than Gibbs4potus is.

I think the Redskins will want to keep him around on the practice squad as Plan B if Richardson gets injured.

Redskins wide receiver depth

Player returning who were on the 2017 Redskin roster

  • Josh Doctson
  • Jamison Crowder
  • Brian Quick
  • Maurice Harris
  • Robert Davis

(one website lists Byron Marshall as a WR, though I have him as a running back)

Veteran free agent acquisition

  • Paul Richardson

Draft pick


Some of the Tweets from Shay Fields’ Twitter feed:


As UDFAs go, rate Shay Fields

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    (25 votes)
  • 46%
    (158 votes)
  • 41%
    (139 votes)
  • 4%
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
338 votes total Vote Now


How good are the chances that Shay Fields is on the Redskins roster in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Pretty strong
    (11 votes)
  • 11%
    Above average
    (38 votes)
  • 37%
    (127 votes)
  • 47%
    (160 votes)
336 votes total Vote Now