As an NFL Draft prospect, what should define Mac Jones more? The fact he played on maybe the greatest college team of all time or the fact he didn't get that opportunity for three whole years? Mac Jones came down to Tuscaloosa in 2017, and he waited so long for his opportunity that he actually graduated his college course and was doing his master's degree this year.
In terms of his tangible skills, they are muddied by the presence of a Heisman-winning wide receiver as Jones' main weapon. But when it comes to his intangibles, Mac Jones seems like a quarterback who's ready to start in the NFL.
Mac Jones made the most out of his situation. While he played for maybe the greatest collection of offensive talent in college football history, Jones made use of every single weapon at his disposal. He posted the most efficient QB season in college football history. Needless to say, it takes a lot of talent to do that.
Even if one can agree that Jones isn't a "scrub," he might not be the next Aaron Rodgers, either. It's hard to predict exactly how Jones fits into the NFL, but let's look at his profile as a draft prospect.
Mac Jones' strengths and weaknesses ahead of the NFL Draft
The first thing that jumps out about Mac Jones is his accuracy. He also throws the football beautifully. He consistently got the ball to his receivers on time, and he put them in the position to succeed. Poise and accuracy are two traits that all general managers look for when they take a pocket quarterback. It seems Mac Jones has these skills in abundance.
Jones's size, pocket presence and decision-making also stand out. At 6'3" and 213 pounds, Jones has a frame that can put on more weight. He could continue to grow into his body, and that progression could bode well for his development. Otherwise, he's very careful with the ball in his hands. Jones only threw four interceptions this season, so he looks like a natural game manager as a QB.
The weaknesses of Mac Jones will limit his potential destinations in the NFL. Jones is a statue in the pocket. Across 13 games this season, Jones only surpassed 10 rushing yards twice. Plus, Jones has a great arm on short and intermediate throws, but he doesn't have the kind of cannon that other passers do.
For this reason, Mac Jones projects as a high-level game manager in the mold of Phillip Rivers near the end of his career. That's a very high bar to reach. To reach it, Jones will have to become a very cerebral passer early in his career. He would also benefit from working with coaches who are offensive masterminds
At his best, Mac Jones should settle in around the level of Matt Ryan. At his worst, he' could be what fans saw from Tua Tagovailoa this past season. In that case, he'd be a QB on a team whose weapons simply do not match his game.
The Best NFL Team Fits For Mac Jones
The best NFL destinations for Mac Jones have been broken into tiers of happiness Mac Jones should feel if he lands there.
Thankful for a miracle: The Falcons, 49ers, Patriots or Colts.
This could work: The Panthers or the Washington Football Team.
Go Back To School: The Jets or the Dolphins.
It would be best for Mac Jones to get paired with a team with a great offensive head coach in place and its weapons already set. In this situation, Jones could mirror his Alabama career and capitalize on existing greatness. It would be disappointing to see him go to a team without an offensive guru to oversee his development.
The best scenario for Mac Jones would be if he landed on the Patriots. Bill Belichick only needs a competent game manager to help him post a winning season. Under the guidance of coordinator Josh McDaniels, Jones could develop into the best game manager he can be. With Belichick's defense getting a few starters back next year, Jones won't be asked to carry the franchise.
Mac Jones is the prototypical pocket passer who needs playmakers to bring out the best of him. Landing on the right team will be vital for his ability to find success at the NFL level. Fans will have to wait and see what happens in the draft.