After a trade that shook the entire football world, the 49ers find themselves moving up from the 12th spot in the first round all the way up to #3. The 49ers are looking to rebound after a disappointing 6-10 season highlighted by numerous injuries to key players. After paying their way up to the #3 pick, the 49ers are believed to be targeting a quarterback.
That’s where the On Tap Sports Net crew believes QB Mac Jones from Alabama will land.
Mac Jones is believed to be the most NFL-ready quarterback that isn’t named Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson. Unfortunately for the 49ers, both of those quarterbacks will likely be gone by the time they’re on the clock on April 29. That leaves the Alabama product for the taking at the third pick.
Jones put together a monster season with the Alabama Crimson Tide this season en route to a National Championship victory over Ohio State. Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. Yes, you read that correctly. He also completed 77.4% of his passes in 2020.
Jones throws a nice ball, possesses adequate decision-making skills, and simply looks like an NFL quarterback. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Alabama runs a pro-style offense, so he has experience running a system similar to what he will see at the NFL level. He also touts above-average arm strength and excels on touch throws.
That said, the criticism surrounding Jones is quite notable.
Unfortunately for Jones, there are a lot of questions surrounding his abilities and his pro day workouts. Jones’s first pro day was less than impressive, missing many throws and looking like nothing more than an average quarterback. However, his second workout was much better, redeeming himself and reminding teams what he can do.
Even so, there is a lot of criticism around Jones’s ability to succeed in the NFL. He had elite receivers at Alabama, as well as a dominant offensive line and run game to support him. However, he helped lead Alabama to be the second-best scoring offense in the FBS last season, but many still knock Jones’ season because of the talent around him.
It certainly doesn’t help Jones that Alabama quarterbacks have rarely turned into NFL starters. Tua Tagovailoa has a chance to be a quality starter in the NFL, but aside from him, there aren’t many names that come to mind in recent memory. Jalen Hurts transferring to Oklahoma was arguably the best thing for his draft stock, as he did not succeed in Alabama’s offense. History is not on Jones’s side, but it is more than just that.
The final set of concerns surrounding the Alabama product relate to his size and athleticism. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network expressed his concern for Jones’s less than ideal size and underwhelming athleticism at the position. Sure, undersized quarterbacks have succeeded in the NFL, see Drew Brees, but the athleticism is something worth keeping an eye on. The NFL is changing, there is no doubt about that. Even quarterbacks who are considered “pocket passers” are still mobile enough to avoid pressure and create time for themselves. Based on Jeremiah’s scouting report, Jones may lack some of that mobility that is becoming so important at the quarterback position.
Mac Jones can be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL, however, it will all come down to fit. A good example is what the Chicago Bears endured with Mitchell Trubisky. If Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes ended up in Chicago, they would likely have not had the same success they experienced in other places, most notably Mahomes. Great players aren’t always ready right out of the gate to be stars, sometimes they need to develop in a system that fits them and have a great coach that can groom them to where they need to be.
In Jones’s case, there is really no better situation at the top of this draft than San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan is a quarterback and offensive guru who can groom Jones into becoming a quality NFL starter. They also have an exceptional defense (that sadly was decimated by injuries last season) and a strong run game to support their young quarterback. If the 49ers add some playmakers around Jones, he can find success with the 49ers early.