With only 10 days to go until the NFL’s 2021 draft, the New England Patriots remain one of the hardest teams to project. Sitting at No. 15 overall, they could go in all directions both in terms of trade options and positions. In terms of popularity, however, it seems as if one position stands out among the others — something confirmed via a recent series of fan mock drafts: quarterback.
Welcome to the new edition of our Monday Morning Mock Draft, where we look at three such fan-created mock drafts as well as one mock draft simulator.
Mac Jones is the definition of a win-with QB. We saw this at Bama when he allowed a lot of the top talent around him to shine, but he never really had to carry the team to victory. However, this is an ideal match of prospect and team, so Jones will be put in just about the best possible situation for him to succeed. While he doesn’t have the upside of any of the QBs taken above him here, Jones is a talented enough passer that he should be a solid starter in the NFL for years to come.
Fans over at SB Nation’s Philadelphia Eagles community were holding a first-round mock draft, and it saw Jones fall to the Patriots with the 15th overall selection. He was the fifth quarterback off the board — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance went 1-2-3 with Justin Fields later joining the Carolina Panthers at No. 8 — and as such in New England’s range.
[H]e is not the sexiest pick, and I’m not going to regurgitate some impressive stats. One could easily argue he is the fifth-best QB in the class, but Bill Belichick has worked some magic before with lesser talent. Think of Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer, and Jacoby Brissett looking like starting QBs in a Patriots uniform. Jones might just be a “game manager,” but Josh McDaniels can work with that due to his accuracy, touch, and strong pocket awareness. With Cam Newton in the fold and some new shiny toys on offense, the Patriots have the luxury to sit Jones for a year to learn the offense. While Jones may not have the highest ceiling compared to the other QBs in this draft class, it won’t matter to the Patriots whose mantra is famously “Do Your Job.”
When it comes to the quarterback position, SB Nation’s Detroit Lions blog envisions the same scenario as the Bleeding Green Nation above. The top-four quarterbacks come of the board within the first eight picks, leaving the Patriots in position to take Jones 15th overall. Here, New England opts to go after the Alabama passer over potential targets such as cornerbacks Jaycee Horn or Caleb Farley.
After getting some spot duty as a redshirt sophomore in 2019 with Tua Tagovailoa missing time, Jones took over as the Crimson Tide’s starter this fall and led the team to a national title. Throwing to a tremendous receiver group that included Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and likely first-round pick Jaylen Waddle, Jones lit up the stat sheet with over 77% completions, 4500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and just four picks. Concerns about his mobility and ability to throw on the move will be his biggest roadblock to being drafted highly, however. Jones might have been the top pick in the draft 15 or 20 years ago, but with mobility becoming more and more important for NFL quarterbacks, that will likely hold him back significantly.
According to the community mock draft over at SB Nation’s Green Bay Packers site, the top four QBs in this year’s class come off the board slightly differently. While Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson still end up in Jacksonville and New York, Justin Fields becomes the third overall selection with Trey Lance getting picked by the Denver Broncos with the ninth overall selection. Once again, however, Jones is there for the Patriots when they are on the clock.
Patriots fans get their quarterback of the future in Mac Jones after he slips all the way to 15th in this mock draft. That is quite the range for Jones, who could conceivably go as high as third overall. If the 49ers ultimately pass on him, we may see the Patriots make an aggressive move to trade up for him. Unlike the other quarterbacks with first-round projections in this class, Jones is more statue than athlete, which explains why fans are sourer on him than most NFL front offices. Jones’ best trait is his accuracy on underneath throws. No quarterback in college football was more accurate within 10 yards than him. He possesses a veteran understanding of an offense, with meticulous timing and a sense of calm under pressure. He will be ready to start in the NFL on Day 1.
The PFF mock draft simulator has apparently produced over one million fan mock drafts this year, and the top choice for New England in the first round has been... you guessed it, Mac Jones. While not the same high-upside passer as Justin Fields or Trey Lance, he might present better value especially if available beyond the top-10: the Patriots would likely not have to give up too many resources even if trading up, compared to a potential jump ahead of QB-needy teams such as Carolina or Denver.
How would you grade the selection of QB Mac Jones at No. 15?
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