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Former NFL Scout asks the question, Is Mac Jones the next Tom Brady?

Mac Jones Alabama NFL Draft Bama Scouting Report
Is Mac Jones the next Tom Brady? Daniel Kelly, a former New York Jets scout breaks down the film and talks about BigMac! Check out this report only on NFL Draft Diamonds.

Scouting Report: QB Mac Jones 6’3” 214 (Alabama)

Prolific, decisive, and pro-ready traditional pocket passer field general type with a good arm, touch, and accuracy. Right-handed QB who started for the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Showed he can be the king of the hill. Thrived under the brightest of lights and the biggest of games at his level. Primarily lined up in the shotgun formation, but also looked natural under center in short-yardage situations. Body type reminds me of Tom Brady. I am not saying he is Tom Brady, but his body type reminds me of Brady at first glance. Thinner lower legs and broad-looking shoulders. I watched every one of his throws and runs in 2020 (Mac Jones led nation with 4,500 passing yards per espn.com). He also shows some visible emotion and excitement. It looks like he is having fun out there. He has some spring in his step. 

Directs traffic well pre-snap. Appears to be football smart and he has a good grasp of what the offense is doing. Excellent and commanding big-league pocket presence. He stands tall in the pocket. 

Jones shows good fundamentals of play-action and pump fakes to momentarily hold and freeze defenses, just long enough to gain route advantage. Convincing play-action fake – however – it is overused (uses it all the time). Very polished and poised looking in the pocket. Appears to be very focused downfield when setting up. Able to slide around if he sees the rush coming and can flush out effectively on designed roll-outs and when the pocket breaks down. He will stare down the barrel of the pass rush – no problem. Tough and courageous. He is not phased by the pass rush, provided he sees it. Extremely susceptible to back-side pressure. He does not have a good feel for that at all – and he is a sitting duck like bowling pins in these situations. He does not at all have eyes in the back of his head. My main concern with his delivery is his tendency to pat the ball before releasing. This clues in defensive backs where he is going with the ball. He will need to correct that. As the season progressed it looked like he was working on cleaning that up as he was doing it less, but it still happened in those games later in the season. There is a real reason for optimism that can be corrected. 

Mac Jones did show a strong tendency to look like to knows where he is going to go with the ball pre-snap and he gave the strong impression he is locking in with receivers and starring them down. This is the biggest concern I have with his game. However, did also show the consistent and regular ability to look off and go through progressions or go another direction with the ball when I saw his head turning and scanning. He will need to work to clean this up even more. Jones showed the ability to make quick decisions with the ball both short and on intermediate routes – but at other times he will stand in the pocket longer until he makes the decision to throw. 

Jones has a strong NFL type arm

He has a cannon for an arm. He has an overhand delivery most of the time, but occasionally can sling it side-armed and cut it loose on intermediate-range routes. Can put some real heat on the ball and throw it on a rope. Often likes to push off his back foot and really drive the ball downfield, but also has the arm to be able to deliver when falling away and not compromise the pass (Missouri). Also – he can let his foot off the gas and throw the off-speed touch stuff short. Can lob passes in there. Jones throws receiver-friendly routes where receivers can catch without adjusting much. Tends to throw it out in front. Consistently showed he can throw the intermediate timing routes. Excellent accuracy and touch. I really want to emphasize how good is touch is – especially deep (some out in front – some 50-50 jump balls). Excels at all the route levels and he can make all the throws. Spreads the ball around. Works the sidelines and the middle of the field well. Excels at intermediate slant and crossing routes. Works the short game well. Jones has pretty looking deep throws. Found myself saying “damn,” several times while watching the film. Nice looking tight rotating spiral. Excellent ball placement at all route levels. Jones has enough velocity on his throws to beat a tight man and he has enough finesse to carve up a zone defense. A concern I have is how drives seemed to sometimes bog down from close range inside the red-zone and inside the 10. 

While he is not going to beat teams with his feet and he is not really all that mobile, he is mobile enough to move around when he has to and he is willing to pick up the tough yards when the situation calls for it. He is pretty much exclusively a pocket passer, but he can move when he has to. He has adequate athletic ability. He has what I like to call, “functional mobility.” He also showed he can slide. 

Jones is the best pure field general prospect in this year’s draft class. Jones is what he is and the team that selects him should be prepared to build around him and tailor their system to what he does best. Again – Jones is an excellent long ball passer who needs to be put in a position to score from long range because of his long-ball ability. Tends to either score or draw a pass interference penalty – either way, it is a win. This is not a quarterback you want to bring in and try to harness. He is accustomed to running a very aggressive offensive attack. Because of his long-ball ability, he commands the respect from defenses, which also will open up the running game more and make his play-action even more effective. Jones loosens up defenses. A premiere running game will make this guy even better. 

Jones is an outstanding-looking prospect who even shows he is working on and cleaning up his flaws (especially patting the ball pre-delivery). Jones also brings an upbeat tempo and rhythm to an offense. I love the fact he excels at all route levels of the field. His short game is really going to help a team and compensate for any offensive line shortcomings. I also love that he thrived against a strong level of competition. He killed LSU when he went 20/28 for 385 yards and four touchdowns in that game. He also protects the ball well in the pocket and he does not make reckless throws. He makes calculated throws (2020 – 311 attempts, 41 TD, 4 INT per espn.com). The vast majority of what he throws is on point. During the Tennessee game (2020), CBS threw up a very interesting statistic saying Jones led the nation in completion percentage, yards, and TD on 30+ yard passes, which further illustrates just how effective he is with the long ball. CBS followed that with another interesting statistic, which compared Jones in 2020 vs. Joe Borrow (2019) through the first four games of the season. This also further illustrates Jones’ effectiveness and it further legitimizes where I have him on my draft board since Borrow went #1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Burrow  (80.5% completion percentage, 1,520 yards and 17 TD)
Jones (78.3% completion percentage, 1,518 yards and 12 TD) 

Mac Jones Highlights

Where would I draft Mac Jones?

Daniel Kelly’s Draft Board: (1-5) First Round. On my board, Justin Fields is my #1 overall and Jones is my #2 pick overall. Jones is the most pro-ready and polished quarterback I have seen out of the top-rated quarterbacks headed into this draft. Jones is remarkably more pro-ready than Lawrence, Wilson, or Lance – who are three quarterbacks who need a lot of work and a lot of development to even have a real chance in the NFL. Mac Jones is a polished version of Trevor Lawrence. He was also good enough to play for the best coach in the history of college football, Nick Saban. I like Jones’ leadership skills. Drafting a quarterback in the first round is like selecting a spouse – for better or worse. Once you draft them – it is like being married to them. However, Jones is a calculated and educated selection I would make. I would not draft Lawrence, Wilson, or Lance in the first round or any round if my life depended on it. Despite my grade, with the way politics work in the NFL and based on the incorrect national narrative surrounding Lawrence, Wilson, and Lance, I can see teams falling asleep on Jones and him falling right into Bill Belichick’s lap so teams and fans alike can kick themselves for the next decade or two just like they did with Brady. I am not saying Jones is Brady. Nobody is Brady. Nobody has the chip on his shoulder Brady has, which is why he wins so much, but Jones’ is going to win in the National Football League. He has everything I want in a quarterback. Because of their history together, Saban will also give Bill Belichick inside intel on Jones he will not give to anyone else in the National Football League. Jones fits Belichick from a football DNA standpoint as well. Grading players is a lot like test driving a car. I really like the look and feel of Mac Jones when evaluating the full body of his work in 2020. 

Probability of being a bust: Very low

Probability of getting an endorsement deal with McDonalds: Very good (Big Mac)

If I were a GM, this is the question I need to be answered in my mind about Mac Jones: Tell me about when you committed to Kentucky and then changed your mind to go to Alabama instead. I need to better understand his level of commitment. 

My Top 5  concerns about Jones:

  1. Him patting the ball prior to delivery and how that can telegraph throws to NFL defensive backs. It is something it looks like he cleaned up some as the season progressed, but he still showed a propensity to do it. There is hope he can correct it though based on the fact he did not do it on every throw as the season progressed. 
  2. His lack of feel for the blindside rush. 
  3. Tends to take sacks and not throw the ball away to avoid sacks. 
  4. His ability to move the ball inside the red-zone. Alabama struck from long range most of the time. Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Arkansas (even got picked off once in the red zone) showed us all a glimpse of he might have difficulties the closer he gets to the end zone without scoring. Alabama was not in a lot of these situations, but when they were this stuck out to me. It is not something he can not do, just something that seemed to be an issue in 2020. There were enough times when he did score from close-range. 
  5. Ran offense primarily out of shotgun formation. 

How NFL defenses will beat him: Blitz the hell out of him, especially from the blindside and the opposite edge. Send linebackers, corners – send the kitchen sink at him. He is a sitting duck in the pocket who does not have eyes in the back of his head. Opposing teams cannot afford to let him sit back in the pocket and carve them up like a Thanksgiving turkey. 

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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