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NFL draft results 2021: Why the Patriots selected Alabama QB Mac Jones

New England turned to the Crimson Tide product at No. 15 overall.

CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL draft got underway under center for the New England Patriots.

New England’s war room selected Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 15 overall in the first round Thursday night.

Jones would become the fifth quarterback prospect off the board behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Brigham Young’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. In the process, the Crimson Tide product would become the highest pick at the position during Bill Belichick’s tenure as Patriots head coach.

Here’s an initial glance into why.

Stopping the draft fall

The Patriots waited out the quarterback gauntlet that went from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the New York Jets to the San Francisco 49ers. And as the Chicago Bears moved up to No. 11 overall in a trade that included Nos. 20 and 164 overall — along with first-round and fourth-round capital in 2022 — for the aforementioned Fields, Jones was left in the green room. He was left within shouting distance.

New England retained the rights to nine selections between Friday and Saturday all while adding the 22-year-old redshirt junior out of Tuscaloosa. Drew Bledsoe, sitting atop the 1993 draft, marked the last passer the organization took in Round 1.

Prolific one-year starter for the national champions

Jones made 17 starts during his Alabama career, taking the reins following Tua Tagovailoa’s hip injury in 2019. And this past campaign under head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the team captain led the FBS by completing 77.4 percent of his throws for 4,500 yards. Along the way through the air were 41 touchdowns against four interceptions up through the national title game. The 52-24 victory over the Buckeyes spanned 464 yards and five scores.

The 6-foot-2, 217-pound Jones received the Davey O’Brien Award to go with first-team All-SEC and consensus All-American honors. He finished third in Heisman Trophy voting with an NFL-bound offensive line, backfield and receiving corps before attending the Senior Bowl. And while lacking the dual-threat athleticism seen from other quarterbacks in the 2021 class, Jones is regarded for his timing, accuracy and ability to be an efficient point guard with his decisions inside the pocket. It is a familiar mold in New England.

Eyeing New England’s depth chart beyond 2021

The quarterback depth chart stood at three for the Patriots. It stood with futures signing Jake Dolegala, 2019 draft choice Jarrett Stidham and incumbent starter Cam Newton, who re-signed on a one-year deal carrying $3.5 million guaranteed leading up to free agency in March.

With Jones, it now stands with a developmental plan in place for beyond 2021. The Patriots were represented by a contingent that included Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels at his Alabama pro day. A Navy trick play and a 40-yard dash in the ballpark of 4.8 seconds followed.


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