The San Francisco 49ers could make a surprising selection with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
According to NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, teams around the league believe San Francisco traded up to select Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
“The majority of people around the league believe this is for Mac Jones,” Jeremiah said. “Of the people that you would want to believe and put your faith in, the overwhelming majority of them believe this is going to be Mac Jones with that pick. So that’s what’s so shocking.”
Jones is viewed as the draft’s fifth-best quarterback behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.
Lawrence and Wilson are expected to be the top two picks in the draft, with Lawrence expected to land with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Wilson with the New York Jets.
Jeremiah added that the Carolina Panthers, who own the No. 8 pick, have been the team most linked to Jones this offseason. He believes the 49ers might have traded up to block Carolina from selecting the Crimson Tide star.
49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to attend Jones’ pro day on Tuesday, which is his second throwing session of the offseason. He also threw last week.
Jones is lauded for his accuracy, but many scouts have had difficulty with his mobility. One NFL executive said, “Athletically, he’s just average,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, while another said, “I think Jones is a good player. I don’t think he’s elite.”
The 22-year-old had a solid season for Alabama, leading the Crimson tide to a national title in 2020. He threw for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns against four interceptions.