Michael McCorkle Jones was projected to be long gone.
But when the time came for the New England Patriots to make their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Alabama quarterback “Mac” Jones was still available. It took no time for head coach Bill Belichick to reveal Jones was the choice.
He’s now in the mix in New England after being selected 15th on Thursday night.
“This is what I wanted all along,” Jones said on stage at the draft in Cleveland. “And I can’t wait to play for the greatest franchise in NFL history.”
Jones, a two-time national title winner with the Crimson Tide, was the fifth quarterback chosen in the top 15 on Thursday. He becomes the 11th player drafted by Belichick who played for Nick Saban in college.
In 13 games last season, Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Some argue he was a product of a system that thrived with a rugged offensive line and elite playmakers everywhere. He was a backup in 2017 when Alabama also won the title.
He already seems to have a grasp of the ballyhooed “Patriot Way.”
Saban said last month teams began showing greater interest in Jones late last season and after the national championship game. In conversations with teams, Saban reminds them where Jones started — on the scout team and then behind a slew of talented players, including projected 2021 NFL starters Jalen Hurts (Eagles) and Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins). And, perhaps most importantly, of Jones’ perseverance to keep working toward getting on the field instead of leaving as a transfer.
“I think that the team that picks me is going to realize they don’t have to worry about me being the first guy in and the last guy out,” Jones said last month. “I’m going to sit and watch as much film as I can and do all the right things. And then obviously the tape speaks for itself.”
Jones joins former Auburn quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jarret Stidham with the Patriots. And he could have a chance to see Tagovailoa head to head twice a year in the AFC East.
Newton re-signed with the Patriots after a disappointing 2020 with the team. He went 7-8 in 15 starts and turns 32 next month.
Newton completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions and rushed for 592 yards and 12 scores.
–Field Level Media