Mac Jones is on top of the world. After winning a National Championship with Alabama, the Crimson Tide quarterback is set to make the jump to the NFL. The only problem is, nobody really knows how good he is. Out of all of the quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones is easily the toughest evaluation in the entire class.
If any quarterback had that sort of Joe Burrow jump this past year in college football, it was the Mac attack. Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions on the season. The man was on fire all year long.
It’s also easy to discredit his success. Jones was a former 3-star recruit and almost went to Kentucky. How many quarterbacks win the national title this year with Alabama? DeVonta Smith is a star. Najee Harris is the best running back in the country. Jaylen Waddle is a unicorn. Jones doesn’t get sneezed on being protected by a terrific offensive line too.
When watching Jones play, it’s obvious to see he’s more talented than Bama quarterbacks of the past like AJ McCarron, Jacob Coker, and Greg McElroy. Jones is an accurate thrower of the football. Yes, most of his guys are running wide open but completing over 77% of your throws is no joke.
Jones plays with terrific timing, touch, and anticipation. The quarterback part of the game, he’s aced the test. Jones looks like he has a great feel for the game and more often than not has great ball placement. Jones might not be the fleetest of foot, but he can move in the pocket to set himself up for success.
There’s also a lot of questions. How does Jones handle pressure? He’s also not the most athletic guy in the world. The pure arm strength is far from elite. People are worried about Tua Tagovailoa in the NFL. I got news for them. Jones isn’t as talented as Tua is. The pure skillset stuff that you look for that means everything is mostly average.
When you take a quarterback in the first round, you have to be prepared to hand him $150 million. Otherwise, you can’t draft the guy. You’re not just drafting Mac Jones. You have to be willing to hand him the bag as well. This is a 10-15 year decision. In a draft that holds Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance, are you willing to also take Jones in round 1?
I’m not saying Jones can’t play. I think there’s something there. However, the worst thing in the world is being stuck with someone like Carson Palmer. A hit but not quite good enough to win the big one. To be honest, I’m not sure Jones has the type of arm Palmer did either.
There’s a lot of work to do on Mac Jones. Then again, we get no combine this year so I don’t know how you get an up close look on how he bends his knees and how the legs are tied to his arm. You’re flipping a coin at this point or banking that he can thrive in a functional environment. Good luck!