Despite some speculation all week long, the New England Patriots decided against trading up for a quarterback in the first round of the draft. But even though they stayed put at the 15th overall selection, they were still able to get their guy: Alabama QB Mac Jones fell into their lap, and the Patriots brought him in to become the next face of the franchise.
It remains to be seen whether or not that plan materializes, but there is some excitement in the building that the Patriots now have a young passer to groom behind incumbent starter Cam Newton and third-year backup Jarrett Stidham. This excitement is apparently also not lost on head coach/general manager Bill Belichick.
According to a recent report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Belichick is very much looking forward to be working with a young quarterback again — so much so that it might push his retirement date back indefinitely.
“Bill Belichick’s obviously one of the older coaches in the NFL. I think he literally never retires,” Rapoport said on the air on Friday. “From the sense I get he’s extremely about working with a young quarterback, teaching a young quarterback, grooming a young quarterback. He hasn’t done it since Tom Brady. I think Bill Belichick will probably coach — I don’t know — forever and Mac Jones is going to be one of the reasons why.”
While that is obviously hyperbole, the gist of the statement remains unchanged. Belichick is looking forward to working with Jones, a player who he and the Patriots have watched closely throughout the pre-draft process, even if his public statements do not entirely reflect this.
“Mac was available there at our pick and he’s a guy we spent a lot of time with and felt like that was the best pick at that time for us,” he said during his post-Round 1 press conference. “Look forward to working with him. He’s a smart kid. He’s been in a system that’s similar to ours. We have had a lot of good conversations with him. I think he’ll be able to process the offense. It’s obviously going to take a lot of time. We’ll see how it goes.”
Jones will be arriving in New England after one of the most productive seasons in college football history. The 22-year-old completed 77.4 percent of his pass attempts for 4,500 yards as well as a 41-to-4 touchdown-to-interception rate — all while leading Alabama to an undefeated National Championship.
Expecting similar production out of him in New England might be unrealistic, but Belichick and the Patriots seem to be well aware that they have an intriguing prospect at their hands.