While scouting consultant Eliot Wolf was in Columbus to represent the New England Patriots at Ohio State’s Pro Day, the organization sent the big guns to the Alabama equivalent: head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels were among those present in Tuscaloosa for the second of two Pro Days organized by the school.
Alabama always has numerous NFL-caliber players on its draft roster, but one name stands out above the rest this year: Mac Jones.
Jones may not be in the same category as other projected first-round QBs — Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Justin Fields (Ohio State), Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State) — but he has proven himself a productive player in one-and-a-half seasons as the Crimson Tide starter. Since taking over for an injured Tua Tagovailoa late in 2019, he completed 76.2 percent of his throws for 5,672 yards, 54 touchdowns and four interceptions.
His impressive output over a 17-game stretch as a starter has led to him become one of the most highly regarded quarterbacks in this year’s draft cycle. As with every prospect, however, there are still some questions left to be answered.
Two stand above all else: Will his limited athleticism become an issue in an ever-evolving NFL? And, was he a product of the system and bona fide supporting cast?
Belichick and McDaniels will try to get some answers on Tuesday, and get a clearer picture of the 22-year-old heading into the final few weeks before late April’s draft. Of course, the Pro Day will not make or break his draft outlook, but it adds more pieces to an increasingly complete puzzle.
The same is obviously also true for other players working out during the session. Among them is another projected first-rounder — wide receiver DeVonta Smith — who had the following connection with Jones at one point:
Jones and Smith will highly likely not play on the same team following the draft, but the question is where they will end up. The Patriots, of course, could be interested in both: they need a long-term solution at quarterback, and also are in need of more high-upside wide receivers despite acquiring Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in free agency.