This is the time of year where we’d be reviewing the top draft prospects' performances at the NFL Combine. Instead, we’re getting regional combines. With that comes these places who are getting paid to train these athletes being allowed to report their own numbers. The result? Everyone is running sub 4.4’s in the 40-yard dash. Who could have possibly seen this coming?
Free agency is still a couple of weeks away, which means more mock drafts and quarterback rumors — like trading for Teddy Bridgewater. Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network released his Mock Draft 4.0 Sunday, where he had a few surprises. Not only did Sikkema have the 49ers trading up for a quarterback, but it was also for a quarterback who is polarizing to some:
QB, North Dakota State
Details: 49ers trade 2021 1st (No. 12), 3rd, 5th, 5th, 2022 1st, 3rd and 2023 2nd for Dolphins’ 2021 1st (No. 3) and 2021 6th.
San Francisco giving up the necessary capital to trade up from No. 12 to No. 3 to get a quarterback may be too rich for some—again, I get it. They’ll tell you the 49ers can succeed with Jimmy Garoppolo, and they technically wouldn’t be wrong. But I would tell such people that the 49ers won’t win a Super Bowl with Garoppolo, and their current roster’s winning window is closing before some big turnover and new contract cores take hold.
I don’t think Deshaun Watson will get traded before the draft. Spacing out the package for the trade-up is advantageous to both Miami and San Francisco. For San Francisco, they can still make enough big picks over the next year or two to make a run, and for the Dolphins, they get future draft capital to keep themselves in the driver’s seat for a Watson price down the road, if it truly comes available.
Before we debate the trade compensation and the player, Peter King said in his FMIA:
I mention this because one NFL coach whose team is in the market for a quarterback this offseason told me the other day Lance scares him. “He’s a guy we all needed to see more of, for a lot of reasons,” this coach said. I won’t be surprised if Lance is passed by Mac Jones in the first round come April.
The opinions on draft prospects will be all over. Two people can watch the same player and come up with two completely different opinions. Surprised would be an understatement if Jones went before Lance, but the NFL proves every year that they have no clue what they’re doing when it comes to evaluating the quarterback position.
Back to Trevor’s mock. If San Francisco wants a QB in the first round, they’re going to have to move up. If the 49ers really want a QB, they’ll need to outbid other teams. Adding in an extra Day 2/3 draft pick should do the trick, which Trevor does.
Since we’re in the hypothetical spirit today, you’d assume the Niners traded Jimmy Garoppolo in this scenario — you’re not going to move heaven and earth for a QB only to retain Jimmy G — and landed a Day 3 pick at worst. So, you’re at least getting a pick back.
Now, about Lance. Every quarterback in this draft has flaws. Shocking, I know. The level of competition is not a strong argument against Lance. That’s my conclusion after watching the majority of his 2019 games. You’re looking for execution and the process, not whether he’s going against 5* defensive backs and pass rushers.
When you realize Lance was a 19-year-old, he’s closer to a prodigy as far as knowing where to go with the ball and getting through his reads than a quarterback who needs to sit. Watching Bills QB, Josh Allen have success after two years in the NFL and thinking how far he’s come since Wyoming makes it hard to bet against Lance, who is a significantly better prospect than Allen was coming out.
As is the case with Allen, Lance has a rocket for an arm which allows him to attempt throws most quarterbacks wouldn’t dream of. Lance makes throws to the far-field hash off coming off his first read that would impress anybody. He’s more disciplined than Allen in the pocket, but Lance lacks anticipation and has accuracy issues that must be ironed out.
Anticipation can be fixed with more reps. Lances’ accuracy problems stem from a mechanical issue where he dips his shoulders, which could also be fixed. The question becomes, is that something you’re willing to risk when you’re moving into the top-3 to select a quarterback? Probably not.
In Sikkema’s mock, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson went first and second overall. Justin Fields went fifth, while Mac Jones went No. 13th.