2021 NFL Draft Prospects: Mac Jones

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Today, we are examining Mac Jones, Alabama’s quarterback who burst onto the scene in 2020, winning the National Championship with the Crimson Tide. He sizes up at 6’3″ 214 lbs.

Strengths: Jones excels at getting the ball where it needs to be, displaying good accuracy to all levels of the field. His deep ball accuracy is particularly impressive, as he has some beautiful throws that display proper touch and timing. By taking these shots, Jones shows an aggressive mentality unfit for the “game manager” label some attach to him. Jones shows fantastic poise in the pocket, always looking calm and collected, unafraid of incoming pressure. Jones’ mental game is strong. He reads opposing defenses well and makes smart decisions, rarely putting the ball in danger. Jones shows an ability to read the field and effectively go through his progressions to find the open receiver. His ability to fit the ball in tight windows is evident on tape as well. Jones performed very well at the Senior Bowl with a completely new cast of receivers and against equal competition. Jones is said to have outstanding competitiveness, leadership, and work ethic. 

Weaknesses: Jones possesses neither the top-level arm strength nor the dynamic athleticism, escapability, and ability to extend the play that has become characteristic of the top performers from recent QB draft classes. This puts a serious cap on his potential in today’s NFL. I also have serious concerns about the context of his All-Star supporting cast. For starters, he never had to put his team on his shoulders and lead them to a win. Next, his ball placement was actually quite inconsistent but this was bailed out by the talent of his receivers. Lastly, Jones was often throwing to open receivers or could almost blindly trust that they would get open, which won’t be the case at the next level. The transition to an even playing field in terms of talent in the NFL could be very difficult for Jones, especially as a one-year starter in Alabama’s system. Jones lacks pass rush awareness at times, and has a tendency of being too risky by throwing while getting hit, which he got away with in college but may be an issue in the NFL. 

Bottom Line: I do not project Jones as a franchise quarterback. The NFL game and coaching has evolved to favor quarterbacks with excellent physical traits such as an explosive arm or the athleticism to extend the play, and possessing neither makes it incredibly difficult to reach a high level at the position today. On top of that, Jones will face a severe transition to the NFL because the level of his supporting cast quite frankly made him look better than he is and allowed him to avoid adversity and challenges he will inevitably face in the NFL. I think Jones will be a spot-starter who will have productive stretches in his career when given an opportunity in which he has a lot of talent around him, but I do not think he has the making of a franchise quarterback due to his mediocre physical traits and the steep transition awaiting him. 

Draft Projection: Mid-late first round

Draft Grade: 3.3 (indicative of an early-mid third round grade)

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