Mac Jones Betting Favorite over Justin Fields as NFL Draft's No. 3 Pick by 49ers

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2021

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) warms up before the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is now a slight betting favorite over Ohio State QB Justin Fields to become the San Francisco 49ers' choice with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

DraftKings Sportsbook provided the full list of lines, which also includes two other signal-callers: North Dakota State's Trey Lance and BYU's Zach Wilson:

DraftKings Sportsbook @DKSportsbook

Mac Jones is now the favorite to be drafted with the third pick in the NFL Draft. Jones to San Francisco? 🤔 https://t.co/nTmZEvwuOs

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is the presumptive selection of the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick. Wilson is expected to land with the New York Jets with the second choice, but he'd likely become the favorite for the Niners if he's still available at No. 3.

The Niners' blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins in March to acquire the third pick signaled the team's likely interest in a new franchise quarterback as part of what will be a QB-heavy top 10.

If the first two picks go as expected, San Francisco will have its choice of Jones, Fields and Lance.

The 49ers used three different quarterbacks during the 2020 season because of injuries and general lackluster play at the sport's most important position. Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard combined for a 90.1 passer rating, which ranked 20th in the NFL.

As a whole, the Niners ranked 21st in points scored, which squandered the efforts of the league's fifth-ranked defense.

If the decision comes down to Jones or Fields, the deciding factor may be whether the coaching staff expects the rookie to become a Week 1 starter or if they'll take a more conservative route by keeping Garoppolo in the starting role at the outset of the 2021 season.

Jones may be second to Lawrence in terms of NFL readiness thanks to his work in a pro-style offense with the Crimson Tide. An NFL quarterbacks coach told Bruce Feldman of The Athletic on Wednesday that the Bama standout is the "most advanced" of the QB prospects:

"In my mind, if I had to win right now, this year, he's the most advanced quarterback of any of them. I think Trevor's the best. I'm cosigning on him, but his system adjustment will be much bigger than Mac. Jones is gonna walk in Day 1 and just have to flip terminology because he's gonna know pro football. He's been coached by Sark [Steve Sarkisian]. He understands run checks, understands moving protections—not that these others don't, but he's on a different level."

Fields has more natural talent and playmaking ability, giving him ample long-term upside, but he faces a steeper learning curve in terms of reading defenses and working quickly through his progressions. Those issues were on display against Alabama in the national championship game.

The Niners, who reached the Super Bowl at the end of the 2019 season before fading to a 6-10 record last year, may opt for the NFL-ready option, so Jones' status as the favorite isn't a major surprise.

San Francisco's brass, led by general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, has done a great job of keeping their preferred quarterback close to the vest, though.


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