NFL Draft 2021: Where Fields, Top QBs Are Being Selected in MocksApril 24, 2021
NFL Draft 2021: Where Fields, Top QBs Are Being Selected in Mocks
Every NFL draft has a chance to remembered as the Year of the Quarterback depending on how its passing prospects pan out.
But the upcoming talent grab seems likelier than most to earn that label.
It's all but guaranteed to open with three quarterbacks at the top. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been married to Clemson's Trevor Lawrence for months. The New York Jets are nearly as closely connected to BYU's Zach Wilson. The San Francisco 49ers have more options at No. 3, but considering the price they paid for the pick, they'll surely walk away with a quarterback.
Three prospects seem in the running at No. 3: Alabama's Mac Jones, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance. We're checking in on three recent expert mocks—from NFL.com's Chad Reuter, CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin and The Draft Network's Benjamin Solak—to see where this trio is projected to land.
There has been plenty of chatter connecting Jones to the 49ers, and Reuter was the latest to project the partnership.
"It's easy to see why 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would appreciate Jones' efficiency, intelligence and decision-making," Reuter wrote.
If Jones slips past San Francisco—as the other two expert mocks predict—it's harder to pin down where the signal-caller might land.
Benjamin mocked Jones seventh overall, with the New England Patriots trading up to get him. This deal, which sends Nos. 15, 46 and 188 to the Detroit Lions, allows the Pats to leapfrog the Carolina Panthers and grab Jones, the last of the top-five quarterbacks in this mock.
But in Solak's mock, Jones doesn't come off the board until No. 15. While that is New England's draft slot, the Pats don't make that pick, but instead move it to the Chicago Bears for No. 20 and a 2022 second-rounder.
"I wouldn't want to make an aggressive trade for Mac Jones when I already have Andy Dalton for a year, but that’s the Bears' lot, as a playoff team outside of the top 15," Solak wrote. "I'm confident the Patriots won't be interested in Jones, so they're glad to move back—as [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick always is—and let the Bears take the gamble."
There are rumblings that Fields' stock is sliding, but these experts aren't buying it.
Reuter has the lowest projection of the three and still has Fields going seventh overall. In that mock, The Denver Broncos sacrifice a third-rounder and a 2022 second-round pick to move from No. 9 to No. 7 for Fields.
Solak is the highest with Fields going to San Francisco at No. 3.
"As someone who has never believed in the Mac-49ers hype, this pick remains Fields for me," Solak wrote.
Benjamin has Fields getting past the 49ers but going with the very next pick to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 4.
"Maybe Arthur Smith trusts Matt Ryan to be his guy for the next year or two, but man, it's just way too hard to pass up on a dynamic QB with this kind of pick," Benjamin wrote. "Atlanta considers Kyle Pitts and a trade out before securing Fields, one of the best all-around packages at his position."
Lance arguably has the widest gap between his floor and his ceiling, but the potential is so rich that none of the experts can see him falling out of the top 10.
His highest projection comes from Benjamin, who mocked Lance to the 49ers at No. 3.
"Mac Jones may be the safe plug-and-play fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense, and Fields would be a more dynamic alternative, but Lance is arguably the best long-term project for the Niners considering his age, running ability and willingness to begin behind Jimmy Garoppolp," Benjamin wrote.
Solak is next-highest with Lance mocked to the Detroit Lions at No. 7.
"I think this is a good landing spot for Lance, who is generally viewed as a developmental prospect in need of a long runway," Solak wrote. "Lance can see the field as QB2, given his dual-threat ability. [Jared] Goff essentially is on a two-year deal with the Lions in terms of cuts, but can be traded after next season, so Lance could see the field as early as 2022."
Reuter mocked Lance to the Chicago Bears at No. 8, predicting a trade with the Carolina Panthers at the expense of Nos. 20 and 83, plus next year's first-round pick.
"Chicago can't stand pat if it wants to become a Super Bowl contender," Reuter wrote. "Andy Dalton was a nice pickup for the 2021 season, but finding a true playmaker at the position is the only way the Bears can climb the NFL power rankings."