The Patriots selected their Quarterback of the Future on Thursday night, drafting Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 15 overall. Jones is coming of a stellar season that ended with a National Championship and instantly becomes a competitor for the 2021 starting job in New England.
The Patriots did not surrender any assets to take Jones, as he fell to them at 15. Jones is coming off one of the best college seasons ever, in which he threw for 4500 yards, 41 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions while completing 77% of his passes. Jones is a great passer who has short and deep accuracy. He is also used to playing in a high-pressure system for Nick Saban, which will make his adjustment to New England easier. Jones is not what one would consider a “mobile” quarterback, but he can run and pick up yards when needed.
The biggest area to watch Jones’ development will be his movement in the pocket under pressure. Because the Alabama offense was a machine in 2020, he rarely faced heavy amounts of pressure. One critique of Jones has been that he played on an offense with such great skill players that it is hard to judge how great he actually was. While there is some fairness to this, he is not the first quarterback in college to have NFL level players around him. Joe Burrow and Baker Mayfield are two recent examples of quarterbacks who had that level of skill around them but that have found early success in the NFL.
The Patriots now have Jones, Cam Newton and Jarrett Sitdham in their quarterback room. As with any position, it will be an open competition to start. However, it would behoove the Patriots to make a decision earlier in training camp as opposed to later because Newton and Jones/ Stidham do not operate the offense in the same manner. Jones is going to operate an offense that is more spread out and will stay mainly in the pocket. Newton’s offense is more condensed with more quarterback runs built in. There is overlap, but the two styles are different enough that adjustment would be required by teammates for either starter. No matter who starts, expect the Patriots to run the ball and throw to tight ends at a high rate in 2021.
Jones is built in the mold of Joe Burrow of 2019. A quarterback who was thought well of before the season who then exploded during his final collegiate season. Jones appears to be NFL ready and it is likely that he will be starting by 2022 at the latest, but probably at some point in 2021. The Patriots loaded up during free agency in 2021 and had a solid draft in 2020. The one missing link has been their quarterback of the future and it looks like they found one in the first round.