It has long been assumed that the San Francisco 49ers were going to take Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, of which Round 1 is tonight from Cleveland. In fact, ESPN's Adam Schefter and others have reported the Niners traded up to No. 3 with the Dolphins specifically for Jones. As recently as Wednesday night, Jones was still a solid favorite to go third. However, North Dakota State's Trey Lance is now the betting leader for that spot at William Hill and other sportsbooks.
When the clock hit midnight Wednesday night/Thursday morning Eastern time, Jones was still a -300 moneyline favorite to be the third overall pick with Lance at +300 and Ohio State's Justin Fields +450 at William Hill. Currently, though, Lance is -200 with Jones +150 and Fields +850 – Fields reportedly is not being considered by the Niners. Coach Kyle Shanahan is believed to prefer Jones, in whom he sees a potential Matt Ryan, while the 49ers' scouts prefer the much more mobile but also much rawer Lance. ESPN's Todd McShay had Lance to the Niners in his final mock draft today. Mel Kiper had Jones.
"It's been the one prop that's been the most popular so far for us, that's for sure," said Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading for William Hill US on the No. 3 overall pick prop. "Most money is on Jones by a mile, twice as much as Lance."
There have no big bets today on Lance, simply the market overall shifting, according to a William Hill spokesperson. The Over/Under draft position markets on both players are down for good. The CBS Sports Big Board ranks Lance as the No. 4 QB and No. 9 overall player and Jones the No. 5 QB and No. 22 overall player.
It is believed that if Lance is the choice and because he's not ready to play in the NFL right away that the 49ers would keep incumbent starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo despite rumors of a potential trade with the Patriots. If Jones is the choice and because he's considered pro-ready the Niners probably would trade Jimmy G, maybe as soon as tonight.
Incidentally, the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero tweeted today that the Niners reached out to the Packers on Wednesday about trading for Aaron Rodgers, but no formal offer was made and a source said there is a "zero percent chance" that Green Bay deals Rodgers – who is from the San Francisco area.
If Jones does get past the 49ers, he could drop at least to No. 15 to the Patriots – unless they trade up for Fields. Washington at No. 19 and Chicago at No. 20 both likely would be thrilled if Jones was still around at their turn.
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