Mel Kiper Mocks Justin Fields to 49ers; Mac Jones to Patriots; Lance to Broncos

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 20, 2021

FILE - Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields throws during an NFL Pro Day at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, in this Tuesday, March 30, 2021, file photo. The Division I Council meets Wednesday and Thursday, April 14-15, and at the top of the agenda — at least in terms of importance — is voting on a proposal that would grant all college athletes the right to transfer one time as undergraduates without sitting out season of competition. Some high-profile players such as quarterback Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia to Ohio State in 2019, were granted waivers by the NCAA and it created an expectation that all players would be cleared to play right away. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon, File)
Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Little more than one week away from the 2021 NFL draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay released a joint three-round mock draft with several notable picks in the top 10.  

Per the rules listed, rather than being a mock draft predicting what will happen, this assignment is what Kiper and McShay would do if they were picking for teams. 

Picking for the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 overall, Kiper said he would take Ohio State's Justin Fields in that spot. 

Other notable selections saw Kiper project the New England Patriots making a deal with the Detroit Lions for the seventh pick to take Mac Jones and Trey Lance going to the Denver Broncos at No. 9 overall. 

It's widely assumed that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Trevor Lawrence and the New York Jets will select Zach Wilson with the top two picks. 

Barring a surprise in either one of those spots, the drama really begins with the 49ers at No. 3. Since San Francisco made the trade with the Miami Dolphins for that pick on March 26, there's been near-unanimous agreement in expert mocks that Jones is going to be the pick. 

Over the past week, though, there have at least been signs that Fields and Lance are still in the mix. Both quarterbacks designed their second pro days with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan's offensive system in mind. 

ESPN's Dan Graziano reported that San Francisco was "extremely involved" in Lance's workout on Monday. The North Dakota State star also recently started working out with quarterbacks coach John Beck at Shanahan's request. 

San Francisco's pick will have a significant ripple effect on the rest of the top 10. Atlanta at No. 4 could go with a quarterback if it likes one of the options still on the board.

The Patriots and Broncos seem likely to target a quarterback if the player(s) they covet are still available. The Carolina Panthers at No. 8 could get involved in that market, depending on how head coach Matt Rhule feels about Sam Darnold's long-term potential. 

It's no secret that quarterback is the one position that every NFL team needs to have an answer for in order to compete for a championship year after year.

With five quarterbacks seemingly boasting first-round talent in this class, it's hardly a surprise to see so many teams having either made a move or potentially plotting a move up to get one of them on their roster. 

All of the draft's quarterback questions will be answered on April 29 when the first round begins.