It’s almost as if we should have seen this coming. With the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Mac Jones out of Alabama. After a week full of rumors, it seems as though the Patriots had set up one majorly successful smokescreen. All week it was chatter about how the Patriots were discussing a possible trade up to the eighth pick to select Ohio State signal-caller Justin Fields. As it would become the eighth pick would come and go, and Fields would be swooped up by the Chicago Bears at pick 11 after a massive trade-up. Since February, it was rumored that the Patriots were calling about 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a rumor I personally believed. The first round came and went, and no deal took place by the time the Patriots were called up to make their pick.
As the commissioner announced that the Patriots were on the clock, it’s almost as if Bill Belichick was sitting right behind the stage. Immediately the pick was in, “quarterback Mac Jones, Alabama”. This has received mixed reactions from many Patriots fans. Some calling it a home run, they’re getting the guy they wanted the entire time. Others are still weeping over not doing the aggressive thing and trading up for the aforementioned Fields. I understand both sides of the argument, though I think our perspectives are mightily skewed in one way or another. The expectations need to be reset among the fanbase.
What Do We Know?
Let’s get the criticism out of the way, shall we? No, Mac Jones is not Tom Brady. This is one of the most popular arguments going around after comparing Brady’s shirtless combine photo and a picture of Jones in the locker room. That and being the slow, tall, “okay arm” quarterback who can just run a really good system. If you want to tell me that those are the similarities? I’d agree, but that’s where the nonsense ends. We have no idea about Mac Jones to this point when it comes to a work ethic or a training regiment. In fact, there’s more bad than good when it comes to the off-field. He’s the recipient of two DUI charges in the past.
He’s also far from the highest upside quarterback. We’ve likely already seen a whole lot of the best McCorkle has to offer. His senior year he tossed the ball for 4,500 yards and 41 scores with probably the most electric supporting cast that college football had to offer. He’s certainly not entering New England with the same dominance at the receiver position as he had in college. His likely top wideout is Nelson Agholor as it stands today.
As for what to be optimistic about? He’s extremely pro-ready. Working under Nick Saban has him basically ready to play competently for the Patriots as soon as the season begins. Though as Belichick said, Cam is the QB for this season pending a competition is necessary. Josh McDaniels is basically getting the perfect prototype for his offense. Mac Jones just has to be competent enough to complete the hand-off and be precise and accurate enough to his those hitch and slant routes. He isn’t a fantastic athlete, but he had one of the highest IQs of this quarterback class.
The expectations should be kept low for year one. Coach Belichick already started around midnight on Friday that “Cam (Newton) is our quarterback. Whatever time Jarrett (Stidham) or Mac is ready to challenge him, we’ll see how it goes.” Stidham probably won’t be anything to take seriously with Mac Jones being a first-round pick. But for now, this is still Cam Newton’s team and it’s hard to imagine a world where Jones is starting week one. It would take a ridiculous pre-season and training camp for Jones to steal the shine from Newton.
The final verdict is this: it was a boring pick. Don’t get all up in arms McCorkle fans, that doesn’t mean it was a bad one. In fact, it might help your case. I don’t see Mac Jones failing in this league. He went to the perfect situation for a young, pro-ready quarterback like himself. There’s not a whole lot of difference between the two offenses outside of talent, and Belichick could look to improve that tonight in day two of the draft. Have some cautious optimism about our new quarterback. There’s no sense in being upset about it, and we all knew Newton and Stidham weren’t the long-term answer.
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