Voluntary offseason workouts are a chance for the New England Patriots’ players to get to know each other and the scheme, and to get a first on-field impression of some of their new teammates. Among them is rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
The 15th overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft, Jones has arrived in Foxborough with plenty of expectations. While it remains to be seen when the team will hand him the keys to the offense — incumbent starter Cam Newton is still the frontrunner to earn the starting quarterback job this season — some of his new teammates have so far spoken highly of the youngster.
Obviously, they said what they are supposed to say. Nonetheless, some takeaways are still noticeable: from wide receiver Jakobi Meyers praising Jones’ ability to throw catchable passes, to offensive lineman Michael Onwenu seeing him as a fit, to linebacker Josh Uche praising his toughness.
“The couple of days we’ve had together, he’s definitely been easy to work with,” Meyers said during a media conference call on Tuesday.
“He probably won’t run past everybody so throwing a catchable ball is definitely something that got him to where he is, and he’s blessed to have the arm talent he has. It’s definitely nice working with him. He does throw a catchable ball. All the guys, I feel like they’re here for a reason. I feel like that’s definitely one of the reasons he’s here.”
Onwenu also had to say some positive words about the former Alabama quarterback, who became the first passer drafted in Round 1 by the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe back in 1993.
“I think he looks good all around,” he said. “I think he fits the personnel and fits the team.”
While Meyers did not have any in-game contact with Jones during his college career, both Onwenu and Josh Uche saw him first hand during the 2020 Citrus Bowl. Uche in particular remembers that game given that he was able to get into the backfield and hit the young QB a few times.
“Got a couple of pressures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a sack. He got over on me with that one. But I got a couple of pressures on him. That was fun. It was cool to see him,” Uche said. “He was a tough kid. He was standing in that pocket. I remember a couple of times I hit him, I’m like, ‘I know he’s not getting up.’”
Uche also noted that he did not get a close look so far, though, given that the rookies spent most of their time separated from the veteran players such as himself. However, he pointed out that he would be happy to have him on the team.
“The rookies are doing their own thing, so I haven’t been able to sit there and keep the scope on him, keep tabbing what they are doing,” Uche said “But I’m sure coaches are handling all that stuff and make sure that whatever needs to be done is going to get done.”
While the young linebacker will watch Jones from the other side of the line of scrimmage and compete against him in practice, both Meyers and Onwenu will work closely with the rookie. New England’s leading pass catcher a year ago and the projected starting left guard are expected to spend considerable time with him throughout the offseason preparatory process — and to possibly start alongside Jones at one point in the future.
Building an early chemistry will be key, although the focus will eventually shift to getting in the best position for the 2021 season. Meyer noted that when he spoke about Jones and the quarterback room as a whole.
“The whole room, I think, it’s nice to go out there and compete,” he said. “Everyone brings their own different aspect to the game — Mac, Cam, Stid, Hoy. I feel like it is a great group of quarterbacks. They all work well with each other. They bring a lot of energy each in their own way. I am enjoying Mac and I am enjoying the rest of the guys.
“I know he does look good right now. All the guys definitely have been putting in a lot of work and it’s exciting to see what is coming forward.”