The New England Patriots regularly drafted quarterbacks even when Tom Brady was still around, but they never invested a first-round pick at the position since head coach Bill Belichick’s arrival in 2000. With Brady now gone and Belichick’s team coming off a 7-9 season that saw some disappointing quarterback play, the approach changed: New England selected Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick on Day 1 of last week’s draft.
An intriguing prospect seemingly tailor-made for the Patriots offense, Jones is the new face of the franchise. Whether or not he will start as soon as his rookie season remains to be seen, but he will certainly be handed the reins at one point. Once that happens, there is a realistic chance he will not let go of them again.
Not only has Jones proven himself a smart and highly productive thrower during his 17 career starts at the University of Alabama, he also has no noticeable injury history to speak of. With that said, let’s take a closer look at his comparatively short medical history to find out what it all means from New England’s perspective.
2021 (Alabama): During the National Championship against Ohio State, Jones suffered a bone bruise in his right leg on a scramble attempt. He fell forward, with linebacker Pete Werner eventually rolling him up. While the issue was tended to on the sideline and Alabama’s athletic staff put some ice onto the leg, Jones did not miss any snaps and eventually finished the game completing 36 of 45 pass attempts for 464 yards and five touchdowns.
2021 (Senior Bowl): A couple weeks after Alabama’s National Championship victory, Jones participated in the Senior Bowl but sat out the game. His right ankle was already taped entering Thursday’s practice and he appeared to injure his left ankle on a running play later. He missed some reps and had both of his ankles taped during a post-practice interview, eventually sitting out the bowl game altogether. Jones did appear to be full-go during his Pro Day workouts in March, though.
What this means for the Patriots
As noted above, Jones’ injury history is quasi non-existent. While his bone bruise and ankle injury happening with a few weeks of each other might have bothered him for a short time, there is no doubt he will be fully ready to participate in the Patriots’ rookie minicamp and the rest of the season preparation.
Obviously his position is one of the less physical in the game when it comes to snap-by-snap engagement with other players. He also played behind an elite offensive line at Alabama, and had comparatively limited exposure during his 39 games and 17 starts. That all said, New England has no reason whatsoever to be worried about its first-round investment from a medical perspective.
That is especially true considering that Jones’ game at Alabama was built largely around pre-snap reads in combination with RPO concepts and getting the ball out of his hands quickly. The philosophical foundation upon which the team’s offense was created limited his chances to get hurt. Sounds familiar? New England was operating in a similar fashion (but without the RPO element) during Tom Brady’s stint as the starting quarterback.
Jones will have to improve his scrambling form — leading with his feet first rather than his head — to limit the chance of injury, but that is a minor area of concern for the team and the young QB. All in all, the Patriots should feel confident in his abilities to keep himself out of harm’s way.