Todd McShay 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Mac Jones Goes No. 9 as 5 QBs Taken Top 10

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) warms up before the start of their Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)
Roger Steinman/Associated Press

The Jacksonville Jaguars select Clemson's Trevor Lawrence to open a quarterback-heavy top 10 in the latest 2021 NFL mock draft from ESPN's Todd McShay released Thursday night.

Lawrence is followed by BYU's Zach Wilson to the New York Jets at No. 2, the Carolina Panthers trading up to select Ohio State's Justin Fields at No. 3 and the Atlanta Falcons grabbing North Dakota State's Trey Lance at No. 4 to end the initial quarterback flurry atop the order.

The San Francisco 49ers then trade up to No. 9 to take Alabama's Mac Jones. Five QBs within the first nine picks would set the NFL draft record, per McShay.

All signs are pointing toward a first round where the quarterbacks steal the show.

Mel Kiper Jr., McShay's ESPN colleague, predicted trades in his latest mock for the first time in his nearly 40 years covering the draft. He explained the QB class is "too good" to allow several signal-callers to slide down the board because they don't have a good fit based on the current order.

Lawrence, Wilson and Fields are starting to feel like top-five locks. All three have all the tools to step in as Day 1 starters in the NFL.

Lance and Jones are next up, and how much interest there is in them is going to play a key role in exactly how wild the opening night of the draft becomes because front offices will need to make sizable offers if they want to move up somewhere in the top 10.

Jones in particular is starting to generate some serious buzz after a terrific year in his first and only season as the Crimson Tide's full-time starter.

The 22-year-old Davey O'Brien Award winner completed 77.4 percent of his throws for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 13 games. He also helped lead Bama to a 13-0 record and the program's 18th national championship.

There are always baseline concerns about quarterbacks with more limited collegiate experience, as compared to a three- or four-year starter, but everything Jones showed in 2020 suggests he warrants consideration for a QB-needy organization early 

"I think I showed them I'm a great leader and I love being in the huddle with those guys, making jokes and running plays to the best of our abilities," Jones told reporters at the Senior Bowl. "I like the huddle because you can verbalize everything, and that's what I showed."

Along with the Niners (No. 12 pick), the New England Patriots (No. 15), Washington Football Team (No. 19) and Chicago Bears (No. 20) are among the teams that could consider moving up to take a quarterback like Jones in the back end of the top 10.