The San Francisco 49ers could be ready to stun the football world with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Most observers presumed the 49ers were looking to draft Justin Fields or Trey Lance with the selection they acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins this week. But NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Monday that other teams believe otherwise.
He added: "Of the people that you would want to believe and put your faith in, the overwhelming majority of them believe this is going to be Mac Jones with that pick. So that's what's so shocking."
Jones is widely viewed as the draft's fifth-best quarterback prospect behind Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Fields, and Lance. Lawrence and Wilson are odds-on favorites to go first and second overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively.
Jeremiah added that the Carolina Panthers, who own the No. 8 overall selection, are the team that's been most connected to Jones. The draft analyst suggested the 49ers may have thought it was necessary to move ahead of Carolina to secure the Alabama standout.
San Francisco sent the No. 12 pick, its next two first-rounders, and a 2022 third-round selection to Miami for No. 3.
Jones and Fields will both perform at their respective pro days on Tuesday. 49ers general manager John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are expected to attend Jones' workout, while assistant GM Adam Peters is set to scout Fields, according to Peter King of NBC Sports.
King wrote that he's "not sure I would infer huge meaning to that, but it could be significant."
Jones was a Heisman finalist last season after succeeding Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as the Crimson Tide's starter. The 22-year-old threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns against four interceptions, production that exceeded Tagovailoa's best at Alabama.
But while Tagovailoa was the No. 5 pick in last year's draft, most analysts have projected Jones as a fringe first-round selection.