Quarterback (QB) Mac Jones of the New England Patriots looks like a shoe-in for Rookie of Year. He is fun to watch – – just as he was at Alabama.
He is a rookie who looks like a 10-year veteran, which is the highest compliment I can give him as an evaluator.
When I heard Jones “had a bad pro day,” I just smiled to myself. I knew at that moment Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Belichick had a little inside joke going. I just had a hunch it was all a set up – – a setup to get Jones to fall to New England at No. 15 in the first round.
Saban was on Belichick’s staff once upon a time, with the Cleveland Browns and both have gone on to become the most successful coaches in college and the NFL, respectively.
“He who laughs last, laughs the hardest,” as the old saying goes.
Jones was my QB2 on my draft board. I hit this one out of the park with my pre-draft take about Jones on 100 Yards of Football:
I gave Fields the slight edge (QB1) because of his dual-role mobility factor, but it was close. I thought Jones looked as smooth as butter leading Alabama’s offense to the National Championship and from the first snap of the preseason against the Washington Football Team – – nothing has changed my mind.
Three other factors stand out the most to me about Jones:
1. Jones brings a methodical, calming and consistent rhythm and tempo to the Patriots’ offense.
Watching Jones run New England’s offense reminds me of how it used to feel watching the New York Giants’ offense back in the 80’s when Parcells’ teams would run out the clock in the 4th quarter.
2. Jones makes minimal mistakes.
Outside of the Saints’ game with the three interceptions (only one was a bad looking pick at the end of the game), Jones consistently has shown he knows where to go with the football in coverages. He takes too many sacks for my liking, just like he did in college because of his laser-sharp downfield focus. However, he does a good job protecting the football.
3. Jones’ response to pressure and mistakes
While Jones is not the niftiest of athletes, he has an uncanny ability to slide around in the pocket with pressure in his face. If you are going to get Jones, it is going to have to be from the perimeter. I also love the resilience Jones has had bouncing back from his interceptions. Jones has continued gunning the ball as if none of it ever happened.
As Tony Razzano said in the book I learned how to scout from growing up, Secrets of an NFL Scout, “There are no 10’s.”
Jones has shown an inability to connect deep so far, and he has had a handful of passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
However, he is consistently good looking in the short to intermediate game. He has stood tall in the pocket and delivered.
I know from being on staff with Belichick, that it is next to impossible for rookies to get on the field until they can talk the talk and walk the walk. I have sat in his defensive meeting room and watched rookies look absolutely lost as he outlined responsibilities.
The fact New England broke the bank in free agency and then Belichick drafted and started the rookie, tells me everything I need to know. It is like watching a parent hand the keys to a brand new Lamborghini to a kid that just got a license.
The way Jones led the Patriots offense against Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers was epic. Jones stood toe-to-toe against Brady and had it not been for a missed field goal at the end of the game…
Once again Bill Belichick has outsmarted the rest of the National Football League and New England once again has another championship caliber QB.Just like Green Bay went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers, New England has gone from Tom Brady to Mac Jones.
It will be painful for the rest of the league, and especially the Jets, but bliss for the fans of the Patriots.
Do not be surprised if New England makes a strong push this year, led by #10 Mac Jones.
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, Mike Tannenbaum, 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.