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NFL Draft

Should Patriots Target Mac Jones In 2021 NFL Draft?

  • The Draft Network
  • February 2, 2021
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Following the failed experiment of Cam Newton, the Patriots—again—are looking for an answer under center. With several of the top quarterback prospects expected to be gone by the time New England is on the clock at No. 15 overall, one notable college star could still be on the board.

“Maybe it makes too much sense,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said in a recent interview. “Mac Jones, pocket passer, great accuracy to all levels, that’s what Tom Brady was.”

In 20 seasons with Brady, New England never had questions at the quarterback position. Brady played less than 12 games in just two seasons from 2000-2019. Now, the Patriots will have a new signal-caller under center for the second consecutive season with Newton seemingly on the outs.

Despite just one season as the starter at Alabama, Mac Jones’ stock has skyrocketed after a 464-yard, five-touchdown performance in the National Championship Game and an excellent week at the Senior Bowl to cap his junior year.

During his week in Mobile, Jones reportedly met with the Patriots, saying New England executives “asked a lot of good questions… they got to know me really well.”

That bodes well for Jones, who has mostly been overlooked due to the elite talent in front of him in this year's draft class with household names like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson. For Jones, his success has been often accompanied by criticism, as many have described his game as a “product of the system” under Nick Saban. I mean sure, does it help to have Heisman-trophy-winning DeVonta Smith out wide, Najee Harris alongside you in the backfield, all the while playing behind potential first-round selection Alex Leatherwood and day-two selection Landon Dickerson on a stout Crimson Tide offensive line? Sure, you can make that argument. However, on the contrary, Jones was without future top-20 pick Jaylen Waddle for nearly the entire year, played with a trio of sophomores out wide in John Metchie, Jahleel Billingsley, and Slade Bolden, all the while in his first year as the starter under center for Alabama.

The arguments go both ways, but Jones has an individual skill set not many in his class have, and his mold sways from the prototypical model NFL offensive coordinators covet.

Jones, like Brady, is a pure pocket passer. Is he mobile, yes, and better than Brady at that, but for the most part, Jones is a first-read quarterback who dissects defenses before the snap. In fact, when targeting his first read, his passing grade sat at 96.5—best in the nation via Pro Football Focus.

With an elite class of quarterbacks this year, and a carousel of veterans expected to be on the move throughout the offseason, the Patriots have options. Matthew Stafford was the first domino to fall as he went from Detroit to Los Angeles in a trade that also sent talented third-year quarterback Jared Goff to the Lions. Now, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins—alongside Deshaun Watson—seem to be on the move in what is shaping up to be one of the most active quarterback markets in history. 

So, for New England’s sake, Jones could be the answer. 

Does he go at No. 15? Probably not. But have the Patriots ever stayed pat in the draft? Bill Belichick isn’t afraid to move up, or down in the annual event, no matter the round, and Jones could still be on the board alongside second-tier signal-caller Kyle Trask (Florida) if New England were to move back to the latter half of the first round. 

It’s a give and take that New England’s brain trust hasn’t had to ponder in over two decades, but it’s a new era in Foxboro and Jones just might fit the bill to return the Patriots back to AFC East supremacy.

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