NFL draft betting: Justin Fields, not Mac Jones, now favored to go third to 49ers

Sam Cooper
·3-min read

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is no longer the betting favorite to be selected third overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the upcoming NFL draft.

Now, after weeks of speculation surrounding Jones and the 49ers, Jones has fallen behind Ohio State QB Justin Fields. As of Thursday afternoon, Fields is the betting favorite to go third with odds of -140. Jones was an overwhelming favorite at the beginning of the week but is now listed at +110. Another quarterback, North Dakota State product Trey Lance, is third at +450.

It’s a massive swing.

Justin Fields makes big move

At one point, Jones was -300 at BetMGM to go No. 3. But the odds began to move after a contingent from the 49ers was in attendance for Fields’ second pro day on Wednesday. A day later, the odds have taken a swift turn, flying in the face of weeks of speculation connecting the 49ers with Jones.

The speculation about Jones going No. 3 began when the 49ers traded up to that spot with a quarterback obviously in their crosshairs. Jones, on the heels of a national championship-winning season in Tuscaloosa, quickly became the rumored favorite of San Francisco’s brass.

All the while, Fields became the subject of some of the usual anonymous criticisms that bubbles up about some prospects during the pre-draft process every year. Was that all some sort of misinformation campaign from a team? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t make a ton of sense from San Francisco’s point of view.

Does the NFL draft start at No. 3?

With the draft still two weeks away, the general consensus with the first two picks is Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence going No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and BYU QB Zach Wilson going second to the New York Jets.

That means the draft starts with San Francisco at No. 3, and players like Fields, Jones and Lance are generally considered to be in that next group of coveted quarterback prospects.

Yahoo Sports NFL draft expert Eric Edholm has Jones as his fifth-rated quarterback in the class (No. 29 overall), but placed him third in his latest mock draft based on intel provided from NFL sources.

Jones threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns while completing 77.4% of his throws last year. Here are some positives on Jones from Edholm’s scouting report:

Advanced understanding of fronts, coverages and progressions — fast, natural processor. Facilitator who operates the offense as it’s designed. Manipulates safeties and linebackers with his eyes and play-action fakes. Great touch — throws a very catchable ball. Very accurate when going vertical — puts ideal loft and timing on his passes. Great decision making. Doesn’t wilt under pressure.

But he is a much more limited athlete compared to the other QBs in his class. Jones can struggle when the play breaks down and didn’t create much outside the pocket at Alabama. His arm strength is considered average, too.

From Edholm’s scouting report:

Arm talent is average — under throws some deep balls and can’t always drill the deeper sideline balls. (Also had some shaky overthrows at his pro day vs. no defense.) Can’t truly rip the ball — reliant on touch, timing and good protection up front to make that work.

Some of those limitations are what made the Jones-to-49ers rumors hard to believe for some. The most-recent odds back up those sentiments. 

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones warms up before an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones warms up before an NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

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