The quarterbacks at the top of the draft forced the movement.
Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the top quarterback followed by Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Lawrence is projected to go No. 1 overall to the Jaguars. Wilson is projected to go the Jets, second overall.
“Something that I feel like that separates me is my passion for the game,” Wilson said. “I really put a lot of time into what I do. Throughout all the years and stuff, I’ve really dedicated my life to football.”
Wilson believes his skills fit nicely in the NFL.
“(I’m) someone that can extend plays,” Wilson said. “Somebody that can make something happen outside of the offense when things break down. That’s something that I take a lot of pride in.”
Shortly after the trade, speculation centered around the 49ers moving up for Lance. The team said they didn’t plan to trade current quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
San Francisco general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan went to Jones’ Pro Day in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday. Fields was up in Columbus, Ohio performing in front of Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot, coach Arthur Smith and offensive coordinator Dave Ragone.
With the appearance in Tuscaloosa, some believe the 49ers have zeroed in on Jones.
“This quarterback class is a really good class,” Jones said. “I’m just blessed to be a part of it. Honestly, you can watch on tape and see that we all have great tape. What separates me is preparation and that I take what I’ve learned from the coaches’ meetings and my own meetings and apply it to the field.”
Jones led Alabama to the national championship over Fields and Ohio State last season.
“I’m going to do exactly what the coach tells me to do and play within the framework of the offense,” Jones said. “But at Alabama I was asked to throw bubble passes and throw down the field. I just did whatever coach Sark (Steve Sarkisian) wanted me to do. If another team wants me to run zone-read, I’ll do that.”
Lance doesn’t appear to make sense at No. 3 for the 49ers.
“He’s a long way away,” a high-ranking team executive told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You’re not going up that high to get a developmental quarterback. He kind of like Jordan Love.”
Love was drafted by the Packers last season and didn’t play a down.
Jones, who worked under former Falcons coordinator Sarkisian at Alabama, knows some of the 49ers’ offensive principles. Some have compared him to Matt Ryan.
He doesn’t make sense either. He’d be Jimmy Garoppolo-light. If the 49ers wanted Jones, they could have stayed at 12 and kept all of their draft picks.
Therefore, the smart money is on the 49ers taking Fields. Shanahan lost Super Bowl LIV when Garoppolo couldn’t connect with a wide open Emmanuel Sanders on a deep throw.
While Shanahan didn’t go to Columbus to see Fields, he had to see the deep ball assault he launched against Clemson in the college football semifinals. Fields’ speed would be a double-threat coming out the wide-zone runs on rollouts that are staples of the 49ers offense. (Ryan hated the rollouts because he never wanted to turn his back to the line of scrimmage.)
So, if it’s Lawrence, Wilson and Fields, the Falcons will have three very good options.
Fontenot could hitch the future of the franchise to Lance. He could fix his leaky offensive line by tackle Oregon tackle Penei Sewell or he can trade out. Given that they didn’t take the 49ers offer, trading out doesn’t seem like the plan.
“The Oregon lineman is legitimate,” the executive told the AJC. “He can start right away at all four spots except center.”
The Falcons have a massive hole at left guard and right tackle Kaleb McGary has been shaky in pass protection. Sewell could start his career at left guard and then kick out to left tackle in Year Two or Three. Left tackle Jake Matthews can slide down to guard or flip over to right tackle.
Sewell would solidify the line, help the run game and keep Ryan alive.
Even with the leapfrog by the 49ers, the Falcons have some delightful options.
Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the top nine picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 3.0:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU)
3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
4. Denver Broncos (trade with Falcons): Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
6. Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
8. Carolina Panthers: Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
9. Falcons (trade with Broncos): Micah Parsons, (OLB, Penn State)
The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts:
For more content about the Atlanta Falcons
Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC
On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now