The New England Patriots have a new franchise quarterback in Mac Jones after selecting the Alabama gunslinger with the 15th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
"You add Mac Jones to what New England did in the offseason, I think he'll be ready to play Week 1," ESPN's Anthony "Booger" McFarland said about the pick. "You got to like what New England has done."
Several analysts pegged Jones to the 49ers at the third pick. After sliding to the 15th overall pick, the Patriots will have some competition at quarterback with Cam Newton, who resigned to a one-year deal in the offseason.
How will Jones help the Patriots in his rookie season?
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones provides the New England Patriots with the potential franchise quarterback they have been looking for since losing Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
While Jones doesn’t share the same athletic ability as Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, he was the most accurate passer in college football last season.
After waiting behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, Jones earned the starting job in 2020, leading the FBS with a 77.4 completion percentage. He also passed for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions while leading the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff National Championship.
He won the Davey O'Brien, Johnny Unites Golden Arm and Manning awards in addition to being a consensus first-team All-America selection by AFCA, Associated Press, The Sporting News and Walter Camp.
It's worth noting that Jones had the second-highest percentage of dropbacks kept clean in 2020, 81.1, of all draft quarterbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. The redshirt junior also had 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and speedy Jaylen Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards per catch last season, to throw to.
Jones offers the Patriots an exceptionally accurate pocket passer who excels at reading defenses but lacks mobility. His display of poise and leadership in Alabama proved he’s capable of starting as a rookie.
Chris Simms of NBC Sports before the draft called Jones a superior prospect to former teammate Tagovailoa.
Prediction for Mac Jones' rookie season
If the Patriots decide to start Mac Jones over Cam Newton, Jones will play behind an offensive line that ranked fourth last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Patriots also added wide receivers Nelson Agholar and Kendrick Bourne, along with tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, providing Jones with plenty of receiving weapons if he wins the starting job as a rookie.
The Patriots have eight picks remaining in the draft: round 2, pick 46; round 3, pick 96; round 4, pick 120; round 4, pick 122; round 5, pick 177; round 6, pick 188; round 6, pick 197; and round 7, pick 242.