• Matt Oehl

The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Mac Jones

Mac Jones is the final quarterback I will be watching. Coming out of Alabama at 6'3", 215lbs, he has good size to be able to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball to his receivers. He had a fantastic senior season where he was a Heisman finalist as well as a national champion. I have him ranked as my fourth quarterback just above NDSU quarterback Trey Lance. He is a pure pocket passer who delivers the ball accurately with great timing and anticipation to his offensive weapons. Below I'll discuss his accuracy, poise, decision making, arm strength, and his ability to extend plays.

Accuracy- Mac Jones consistently delivers the ball accurately to his receivers for them to be able to catch the ball and create yards after the catch. He has very good accuracy to all levels of the field but his deep-ball accuracy is excellent. The only time he doesn't deliver the ball accurately on deep throws is when the receiver runs out of Jones' range. Many people believe that Jones was a product of Alabama with the coaching and weapons around him but neither the coaching nor the players around him were the reason he was able to throw accurate passes. Yes, his receivers were often open but his accuracy was very good both on covered and uncovered throws.

Poise- Jones was able to show off his poise from the beginning when he had to step into the spotlight and take over for the injured Tua Tagovailoa in 2019. Alabama's offense did not miss a beat during this transition from Tua to Jones. It carried over into 2020 where Jones played in a lot of big games including the SEC championship and the national championship and the moment never seemed too big for him. He has shown that he is very smart and always prepared on game day. When under pressure Jones has shown that he is willing to sit in there and make the necessary throws, knowing a hit is coming his way. Lastly, he doesn't get flustered when his first and second reads aren't there, he remains calm and always knows where to find his check down which is a very underrated trait in my opinion.

Decision Making- Jones is very good with his decision making. In 2020 he only threw four interceptions throughout 13 games and he takes care of the ball and doesn't put it in places for the defense to make a play on it. He is a very good first-read thrower and this is due to his ability to read the defense pre-snap but he doesn't pre-determine who he is going to throw it to and lock on. By that I mean he has shown that he can get through his progressions with ease. If his first read isn't there he goes to his second and so on until he needs to throw it to his check down. This is the trait that separates him from most of the other quarterback prospects as he seems almost NFL ready in his ability to read defenses pre-snap and get through his progressions post-snap.

Arm Strength- His arm strength is solid at best. He can push the ball downfield but his arm is not his strength at all. He wins with his accuracy, anticipation, timing, and his mind. There are times where his receivers can get too far downfield and out of his range. This is where he is most likely to throw the ball inaccurately since he just doesn't have enough behind it to get the ball down there. He has shown that he can fit the ball in tight windows on short to intermediate throws but he isn't going to wow anybody with the zip behind his ball.

Extend Plays- Jones is a pocket passer. He isn't going to escape the pocket every down and make throws on the run. Not saying that he will never get outside of the pocket and make some throws but he is going to need to be behind a solid offensive line at the next level. His pocket presence on the other hand is very good. He is going to be able to maneuver within the pocket to avoid pressure and extend plays while being able to set his feet again and deliver throws to his receivers.

Mac Jones doesn't fit the new era NFL quarterback type who can make plays with his legs to extend plays and run the ball. He is a pure pocket passer who wins in other ways and I think there is still a place in the NFL for him. I have him as a first-round talent and although he doesn't fit the new NFL mold for a quarterback I think he will be able to find success if he goes to the right team. The idea that he NEEDS a good team around him is a little absurd to me because the goal of every NFL team should be to give the quarterback as much talent as possible. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs who have elite talent at just about every position on offense and the fact that Mac Jones would be best with a talented team shouldn't be a knock on him.

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