Todd McShay 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Trey Lance to 49ers; Mac Jones to Patriots

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2021

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance scrambles against Central Arkansas in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota State won 39-28. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

In his final mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay predicted the San Francisco 49ers will select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the most discussed selection ahead of Thursday night's first round.

Here's a look at the top 10:

  • 1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
  • 2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
  • 3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
  • 4. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
  • 5. Cincinnati Bengals: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU
  • 6. Miami Dolphins: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
  • 7. Detroit Lions: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
  • 8. Carolina Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
  • 9. Denver Broncos: Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
  • 10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The New England Patriots select Alabama's Mac Jones at No. 15 to cap the Round 1 quarterback picks.

San Francisco's decision at No. 3 is going to shape the remainder of the first round. Lawrence and Wilson are virtual locks to land with the Jags and Jets, respectively.

The Niners have been mostly linked to Lance or Jones, but Fields is also a possibility. The team's brass has played its cards close to the vest since making a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins to move up in the order in March. The only shock would be if they don't take a quarterback at all.

"It's a unique situation," general manager John Lynch said. "We have the third pick and typically No. 3 picks at quarterback, they're going to teams that aren't that good. I think our roster's pretty good. We need to stay healthy. There's a lot of things that have to happen. But I think our roster's pretty healthy in terms of talent. So I think it can be a really exciting environment for who we decide on to come in and play when they're ready to play."

Jones is the most NFL-ready signal-caller of the team's three options, but the 49ers don't necessarily have to start their rookie Week 1. They could keep Jimmy Garoppolo for another year if they want to take a high-upside talent like Lance or Fields and bring them along a little slower.

Meanwhile, the Patriots remain in the market for the long-term successor for Tom Brady, and getting one without having to trade a king's ransom to move up from No. 15 would be a major victory for head coach Bill Belichick and Co.

Belichick is close friends with Alabama coach Nick Saban, so he should have all the information he needs to decide whether the 2020 Manning Award winner has what it takes to succeed in the NFL.

The most notable move in the bottom half of the first round in McShay's final mock is the Buffalo Bills trading up from No. 30 to No. 22 in a deal with the Tennessee Titans. They select Clemson running back Travis Etienne to round out an already star-studded offense.

Thursday's first round kicks off at 8 p.m. ET with coverage on the B/R App, Twitter and YouTube.