The New England Patriots addressed their biggest need right out of the shoot at the 2021 NFL Draft. With the No. 15 overall pick, the club selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, giving the organization a signal-caller they can now begin to build around for the foreseeable future. That said, Jones won't be given the keys to the sports car that is the Patriots offense on Day 1. Those still belong to 2020 starter Cam Newton and Jones will seemingly need to take some big strides to leap over him next season.
"Look forward to working with him," Belichick said of Jones following the first round. "He's a smart kid. He's been in a system that's similar to ours. We've had a lot of good conversations with him. I think he'll be able to process the offense. It's obviously going to take a lot of time. We'll see how it goes.
"Cam's our quarterback. Whatever time Jarrett or Mac are ready to challenge and compete we'll see how that goes. Right now, for Mac, he's just got a lot of learning in front of him."
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When later pressed on whether or not it'll be Newton taking the starting reps and how long that may last before he gives way to Jones, Belichick said, "I don't know. Somebody would have to play better than he does."
Newton started 15 games for the Patriots last season and the results were mixed. He was able to make plays with his legs (12 rushing touchdowns), but the passing attack was lackluster. That was partly due to a less-than-stellar collection of skill-position players and poor play under center from Newton. He finished his season with a 65.8 completion percentage but averaged a career-low 177.1 passing yards per game, eight passing touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.
Despite those struggles, Belichick stood firm with Newton as his starter and even re-signed him to a one-year deal just before the start of free agency. Given his experience not only in the league but in the Patriots system, Belichick will likely continue to hold Newton atop the depth chart until Jones can force the issue. As it relates to one day taking the mantle as QB1, Jones acknowledges that it is currently Newton's job.
"It's his show. I'm just there to support him and help out the team any way I can," Jones said following his selection to the Patriots.
Of course, there will come a time when Jones leaps over Newton and New England fully turns its attention towards building the offense around their first-round investment. For that to happen, however, Jones will need to immerse himself in the offense and show Belichick and the rest of the staff that he is their best option to win on a weekly basis. Once he gets there, it's off to the races.