The Patriots were rumored to be looking to trade up for one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but they didn't end up needing to as Alabama's Mac Jones fell to them at No. 15. Is he the Tom Brady replacement they've been searching for?
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Michael "Mac" Jones was a four-star recruit from 247 Sports Composite, Rivals and ESPN. As a senior at The Bolles School, Jones threw for 1,532 yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the team to the Florida 4A State Championship game in 2016. A well-known prospect on the high-school football camp circuit, including Elite11 in California, Jones had 22 offers from college programs but ultimately chose Alabama, where he knew he'd have to wait behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa for a chance to play. Jones redshirted his freshman year, was pretty much on the bench the year after, and replaced Tagovailoa following an injury as a sophomore. He went on to start 18 games, winning 17 of them including an undefeated season in 2020 that resulted in a national championship victory.
Jones is among the top quarterbacks in the 2020 class, but the only one considered a throwback because of his lack of mobility and incredible ability to read and react to defenses. In an era where quarterbacks are valued for their arms and their feet, Jones is a classic pocket passer who "rushed" the ball 51 times over the past two seasons.
We're breaking down everything you need to know about Jones from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
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2021 Fantasy Impact
The Tom Brady comp is obvious for Jones, and everyone has been making it on draft night. But it's so obviously unfair to Jones. Whatever superficial or stylistic similarities exist between them, it's putting way too high expectations on him. Jones can be a solid quarterback who has plenty of positive traits, but ... Brady is the GOAT. Don't put that on him.
And don't expect Jones to replicate Brady's ability to make the most out of mediocre situations around him. Even Brady struggled back in 2019 with the Patriots lack of weapons, and while they'd beefed up their receiving corps, it's still one of the worst in the league. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith are a solid tight end pair, but neither is exactly Rob Gronkowski. And while, Nelson Agholor had a nice season with the Raiders in 2020, he's probably a No. 3 option on most teams; he's New England's top WR.
That said, Jones could be good news for these receivers. Cam Newton is probably a better player, and if the Patriots are looking to prioritize winning in 2020, he'll probably be the starter in Week 1. However, Jones could be a steadier hand for the passing game, if they opt to go that way. He could help get the most out of Smith, Henry, and Agholor -- though I wouldn't draft any of them as a starter in 2021.
Which is why the 2021 impact for Jones is pretty minimal. This just isn't a particularly impressive offensive group, and the Patriots coaching staff needs to earn the benefit of the doubt back after the last couple of seasons. Whether it's Jones or Newton, there's not much to get excited about.
If you aren't going to be a productive runner at the QB position at this point, you need to be an incredible passer to be a high-end Fantasy option. And you probably want some dynamic playmakers to throw to. Jones could end up being a very good passer, but he does not have great weapons around him, and the Patriots don't have any young guys to expect to make a leap. Among the first five QB taken in the first round, Jones clearly ranks lowest for Dynasty purposes in New England, and he's probably just a third-round pick in rookie-only one-QB drafts, and maybe a second-rounder in Superflex or 2QB leagues.
Jones' accurate arm, smarts and fearlessness should carry him to a starting job at some point this season. It would take some significant regression for Jones to crater into a backup, but it also would take a dynamic receiving corps and an offense tailored to Jones' anticipatory arm for him to be a statistical dynamo like he was at Alabama. There's also the growing demand for Fantasy quarterbacks who run for numbers, something Jones didn't do much at Alabama. Therefore, he'll really need to be in a spot where 4,000 passing yards and 28 touchdowns is the floor. That's hard to count on from a rookie. Expect Jones to slide into the second round (if not the third round) in traditional rookie-only drafts. Demand for quarterbacks in Superflex and 2QB formats will get him snared before the end of Round 1.
- Stocky build in pads.
- Overall mechanics, from footwork to hip rotation to delivery were very good. Usually delivered throws in a compact, effortless motion.
- Zero issues about his ability to read and react to defensive coverages. Understood how to play off safeties. Rarely made bad decisions on who to throw to.
- Also did a good job of not forcing a lot of throws when under duress -- took sacks and threw passes out of bounds when he had to.
- Polished in his maneuvering of the pocket and fearless from throwing when pressure was in his kitchen. Kept eyes downfield consistently and had a good sense for the pass rush, buying time and shifting away from it when necessary and delivering an accurate throw when about to get hit.
- Wasn't in a hurry to check down to a short-area target. His check-downs were smart plays, not scared plays.
- Absolutely a rhythm and anticipatory thrower suitable for any playbook. Threw his receivers open frequently, giving them chances to make catches in bounds and/or make plays after the catch.
- Accuracy was usually very good at all levels. Knew when to use touch or when to use good velocity to place the ball where his man would catch it. Deep accuracy was typically good with strikes ranging between 30 and 45 yards through the air.
- Was willing to dive and burrow in short-yardage situations.
- Played actor after handing off, faking a throw or a run to try and trick the defense. Very Favre-like.
- No reported injuries through time at Alabama. Did sustain a minor ankle injury during 2021 Senior Bowl.
- Humble kid with a willingness to work hard and put his team first.
- Sizable quarterback, but went down rather easily on sacks and rarely kept plays alive after taking on contact. Frankly didn't take on a whole lot of contact.
- Frequently lined up in shotgun, rarely under center.
- Would sometimes pass up short, safe throws for more challenging throws. Might drive his coaches crazy.
- Happened rarely, but aggressive pass rushes sped up his throwing motion and delivery, resulting in off-target throws and incomplete passes. Would throw off his back foot under pressure sometimes, which impacted velocity and accuracy.
- Threw 85 screen passes, second-most in the nation (Trevor Lawrence, 87). Had 591 yards on screen passes, second-most in the nation (Lawrence, 686).
- Stats legitimately might be the byproduct of working in a talented offense. Offensive line was terrific, pass-catchers were outstanding and play-calling was awesome.
- Maybe two or three times per game was a little off-target with his throws, forcing his receivers to adjust (wrong shoulder, high pass, underthrown, etc.).
- Mobility is adequate. He's not a mover.
- Generally has high character but was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and carrying a fake ID as a freshman in November 2017 (19 years old).
|2019 v top 25||2||65.6||662||7||2||32||0|
|2020 v top 25||6||76.8||2333||27||3||-1||0|
Advanced stats to know
(all from 2020)*
- 17-1 as a starter at Alabama.
- Five games with over 400 passing yards in 2020, a single-season Alabama record.
- 70 plays of 20-plus yards, second-most among QBs.
- Had the second-most air yards of any quarterback (3,730).
- Adjusted completion rate of 84.2%, highest in the nation.
- Average depth of target of 8.8 yards, tied for 57th.
Jones makes throws, plain and simple. He won't wow you with athleticism but will get the ball where it needs to be provided he has solid blocking. The difference between him and someone like Kirk Cousins is that, at least through his college years, Jones doesn't get flustered by opposing pass rushes. Then again, Cousins has maintained a good adjusted completion percentage when under pressure (73% in 2019, 69.8% in 2020), which is something teams might be counting on with Jones. It's not a sexy comparison, but Jones has the feel of that kind of reliable quarterback.