The New England Patriots’ spending spree in free agency suggested a big move in the 2021 NFL Draft was coming, and they certainly made a splash in the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick.
Jones exploded onto the scene in 2020 in leading the Crimson Tide to the national championship, operating a pro-style scheme that is definitely transferable to the NFL level. He was in charge of protections, made plenty of good pre-snap reads and showed the ability to make good decisions and execute full-field progressions.
There’s no question that Jones fits the mold of what the Patriots usually look for in quarterbacks. In the one full season he did start for Alabama, he threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns to four interceptions and completed an FBS-record 77.4% of his passes.
Because of his relative inexperience, it’s not too much of a surprise to see Jones slip a bit in the draft. The good news? It means he has the golden opportunity to land with a much better team, as opposed to needing to fill the role of instant savior somewhere else.
Impact of New England Patriots drafting Mac Jones
It’s obvious Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is really trying to most past last year’s disappointing 7-9 effort by infusing the roster with veteran talent and acquiring a gifted quarterback on a cheap rookie contract to make another championship push in the next few seasons.
Jones is a very different type of QB to Cam Newton, and the veteran was inconsistent in 2020, albeit playing with one of the NFL’s least explosive skill position groups.
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels obviously struggled adapting to Newton’s strengths last season. Even after some trial and error and the fact that Newton’s returning, McDaniels may be inclined to pivot quickly back to what he’s accustomed to in a field general.
What’s certain is this is a new era of Patriots football, but back are the days of the traditional, pure pocket passer, which worked wonders for two decades with Tom Brady at the controls. Now, it’s Jones’ offense to operate in Foxborough, and for better or worse, he is the new face of the iconic franchise.
Follow along for Sportsnaut’s live 2021 NFL Draft grades as the picks continue to roll in.