Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Mock Draft Roundup: Justin Fields’ stock is rising

Justin Wong
Apr 21, 2021 at 2:41 PM0


The 2021 NFL Draft is a three-day event from April 29th to May 1st that will be hosted in Cleveland, Ohio. A select number of draft prospects will be invited to Cleveland to walk across the stage and shake hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The NFL Draft will also feature draft prospects participating remotely across the country.

Last month, the 49ers arguably made their most aggressive move since trading Joe Montana, as they gave up multiple picks to jump from No. 12 to No. 3 in this year's NFL Draft. The first Mock Draft Roundup I compiled of analysts' projected picks for San Francisco featured primarily defensive players, but NFL pundits have now shifted their 49ers mock drafts to the quarterback position. The initial Mock Draft Roundup after the trade was a pick your poison scenario, in which experts weighed Trey Lance of North Dakota State, Mac Jones of Alabama, and Justin Fields of Ohio State as the 49ers' future quarterback. A week later, the chatter shifted towards Jones as the Mock Draft Roundup consensus pick. After Fields' second pro day there was a divided line between Fields and Jones in last week's Mock Draft Roundup. The dust has finally cleared and with the 49ers' brass now having attended the pro days for all three prospects, it seems like the chatter is now leaning towards Fields with less than a week to go.


Below is a mock draft roundup with eight days (!) remaining until the actual NFL Draft. Each week, I'll pull up several recent mock drafts from various outlets and will give an analysis on the pick along with my personal take.


Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

You should know by now how much I like Fields. He has all the tools to be a superstar, and he'd thrive in Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Chris Burke, The Athletic
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

As Matt Barrows recently pointed out, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is tight with John Beck, the ex-NFL quarterback who's now the private QB coach for Fields (and Trey Lance). That's an invaluable connection in a challenging scouting environment. Fields, somehow, is almost flying under the radar despite his outstanding skill set.

Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

The last time QBs went 1-2-3 in the NFL draft was in 1999, with Tim Couch to the Browns, Donovan McNabb to the Eagles and Akili Smith to the Bengals. The 49ers' trade up to No. 3 assured this will again happen this draft—but what's less clear is which QB they'll choose. Shanahan likes to keep things close to the vest, so there have not been a lot of legitimate tea leaves to read. But you only make that big of a jump if you are going after a truly special player, and the 22-year-old Fields in Shanahan's bootleg/play-action scheme is a tantalizing pairing.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has been on the Jones bandwagon in his previous mock drafts but in this instance, he went with the player he would personally draft versus the actual pick. Kiper Jr. believes that Fields has the tools to be a superstar but based on the NFL draft chatter, he still thinks Jones could very well be the pick. Between Kiper Jr., The Athletic's Chris Burke, and Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas, the consensus opinion among them remains--the upside of Fields' ceiling makes it worthwhile to trade significant draft capital for a potentially special player. It's essentially what the 49ers' Webzone Staff has been clamoring for in its Quarterback Roundtable discussion.

Benjamin Solak, The Draft Network
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Ever since the books set up with Mac Jones as the heavy favorite for No. 3 overall, there has been a steady climb in interest on Fields, to the point now that he is the slight favorite on most books. The movement may be solely the result of public money and media speculation, but as someone who has never believed in the Mac-49ers hype, this pick remains Fields for me. As it rightfully should be.
I don't think Fields is a perfect fit for the Shanahan offense as we've seen it in San Francisco to this point. With Fields in hand, the 49ers can throw the ball a little further downfield more often and add the QB running game, expanding on the already solid dimensions of a devastating RPO/screen game.

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Alabama's Mac Jones was the betting favorite not long ago, but that always felt like fool's gold. Indeed, Fields has now overtaken that top spot in the odds, and with good reason. Easily the second-best quarterback in this year's class, Fields is a dynamic playmaker who can beat defenses through the air or on the ground.

Draft Wire's Luke Easterling termed it well about the Jones-to-49ers chatter being nothing more than "fool's gold". The 49ers' front office has been tight-lipped about the majority of its transactions, including this year's trade up, so why would it all of a sudden spill the beans a month before the actual NFL Draft? From an odds-maker perspective, the tables have now turned in favor of Fields. It might be due in large part to the sudden backtracking of the media along with Fields' strong pro day with the 49ers in attendance.


Peter Schrager, NFL Network
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

We're less than two weeks away and I'm still feeling Mac Jones is the guy. I'm told the 49ers still have not made a decision and continue to do their work on all three quarterback prospects who would be available: Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance. Jones had one of the greatest college football seasons we've seen in recent years, and pro scouts like him a lot -- even if the pundits do not.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

We have no idea what happens here but Kyle Shanahan was at his best when he was calling plays for Matt Ryan. That doesn't mean he isn't having visions of doing even more with a talent like Justin Fields, we just don't know because the 49ers have been tight-lipped about their intentions

The media is starting to recognize that the initial Jones chatter is not as reliable as initially reported. Nonetheless, Jones remains a strong candidate for the 49ers as NFL analysts continue to go back to the player comparison of Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan. Both 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Ryan had career years during their time together in Atlanta. While it's quite obvious that both Fields and Lance are the more popular choices among the 49ers' fanbase, there have been numerous pro scouts who remain firm on their assessment of Jones being the better fit for San Francisco.


Mike Tanier, Pro Football Network
Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Kyle Shanahan has the chance to do something unique with this pick. He could select Trey Lance or Justin Fields and groom them while Jimmy Garoppolo soaks up early-season starts. Shanahan could then unleash Lance or Fields in what we are required by internet law to call "his extremely QB-friendly scheme" and confirm he is a bona fide offensive genius once and for all.

Alas, the 49ers appear bent on drafting Mac Jones, who is far less talented than Lance or Fields but more "NFL ready," which is code for "pocket passer propped up by a great program," — which is often code for "tall white guy." It's almost certainly the wrong, but safe, move that Shanahan will make quasi-work by turning Jones into the arithmetic average of Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan.

When I read this take by Pro Football Network's Mike Tanier, I couldn't help but laugh and appreciate the honest commentary as he broke down the football "code" of draft experts. Tanier would prefer either Fields or Lance but predicts that Jones will remain the pick as "NFL ready" translates to "pocket passer" which becomes code for "tall white guy". All jokes aside, perhaps Shanahan truly does want the safer quarterback prospect in Jones because he can already envision his skillset translating seamlessly at the next level.

Next Wednesday will be my last 49ers Mock Draft Roundup with just one day away from the actual NFL Draft on April 29th. Will the draft pick perception change once again?



It's worth noting that Fields has confirmed to NFL teams during the pre-draft process that he is managing epilepsy – a neurological disorder that can cause seizures. The report shouldn't be a surprise to NFL teams at this stage in the player evaluation process but the timing of the news is intriguing...
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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