John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Tannenbaum sees Mac Jones as ‘very similar’ to Matt Ryan, has QB to 49ers in mock draft

Apr 6, 2021 at 9:23 AM--

Yet another mock draft has the San Francisco 49ers selecting former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick. This one from ESPN's Mike Tannenbaum is a bit different, though. While some analysts feel that Jones-to-49ers is the most likely scenario, many feel that the selection would be a reach, especially with potentially higher-ceiling prospects Justin Fields and Trey Lance likely to still be on the board.

The latest ESPN mock draft has Tannenbaum, a former NFL executive, playing the role of general manager for all 32 teams and choosing the players he feels are the best fit for each.

Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson go one and two, respectively, in the mock draft, which is expected to be the case on April 29, especially after the New York Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. That leaves a difficult decision for the 49ers at No. 3, and Tannenbaum would pick Jones if he were in general manager John Lynch's shoes.

"I see Jones as very similar to Matt Ryan, whom Kyle Shanahan had a lot of success with in his Atlanta days," explains Tannenbaum. "He is an accurate thrower and processes quickly, and I think he's a better mover than most give him credit. And I love his closing statement on the 2020 season, throwing 14 touchdowns over his last three games en route to a national title."

Why not one of the other top prospects, like Lance?

"North Dakota State's Trey Lance was also in the mix, but it's too risky for my blood to trade all those picks to move up this high to invest in a quarterback who played just one game since 2019 and zero in his career against FBS competition," wrote Tannenbaum.

Tannenbaum's ESPN colleague, Mel Kiper, doesn't have a problem with the selection of Jones over Fields or Lance.

"I think Mac Jones, with the year he had, with the intelligence level he has, the competitiveness, the accuracy [at] all levels, if they feel he's the best quarterback for their offense, I have no issue with Mac Jones going ahead of Trey Lance, who had that one year at the I-AA level," Kiper explained on ESPN's Get Up! "Only 17 career starts. And of course, Justin Fields would be my pick, but it's not about what I would do, or Mike would do, or anybody would do. It's about what they want, and Mac Jones is great.

"While it's not way up there in the stratosphere for me, it's high enough if they feel he's the right guy based on what he did this year at Alabama, with all that talent around him. ... I think you look at Mac Jones, I think it makes sense, for a lot of levels, why the 49ers would make him the third pick overall."

Kiper feels drafting Lance over Jones would be a mistake. While Lance is the "most fascinating" player he's evaluated in 43 years, the body of work isn't there to rate him higher than Jones.

"I would take Mac Jones over Trey Lance," Kiper admitted.

Get Up! host Mike Greenberg feels the 49ers moved up to select Lance, not Jones. San Francisco can keep Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster for another season and groom his heir apparent.

"That is literally the Kansas City model exactly," Greenberg notes. "Have Garoppolo play until Lance, who everyone says needs time to develop, is ready to go. And everyone is telling me, all of you, Mel, and everyone I talk to, says Lance has the upside that no one else in this draft has."

Tannenbaum responded by questioning the decision to trade so much draft capital to potentially draft a quarterback who played in one game last season.

"[We would be] talking about historic, historic risk-taking by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan," Tannenbaum said. "That would be unbelievable, Greeny. I love Trey Lance. I have him going [at No. 4], but you're going to give up three ones and a third for a guy that played one game [last] year, and it wasn't even at the highest level of football? I think that would be unbelievable."

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