Drafting a quarterback in the first round is like throwing your football team into the deep end of a pool full of change. There is no bigger undertaking in football than handing the keys of your franchise over to a young man in his early twenties, especially when the incumbent starter is still on the roster.
We’re going to see a lot of this change in 2021, with such a large class of rookie first-round picks. Trevor Lawrence will be taking over for a still rostered Gardner Minshew in Jacksonville. Chicago will eventually hand the reins over to Justin Fields after making Andy Dalton the starter in March of all months. San Francisco traded all the way up to the third pick in the draft to grab their future franchise guy in Trey Lance less than two years after incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo led them to a Super Bowl appearance.
Of course, in New England we will see the same, as last year’s starter Cam Newton was re-signed before the Patriots used their first selection in the draft to pick up their future starter Mac Jones — a move that Cam Newton stated was the right one in his conference call on Tuesday.
“It didn’t make me feel any type of way, because he was the right pick in my opinion. He was the best player available and that’s what the NFL Draft is for,” Newton said. “I support it 110 percent. You have to do what’s right for the organization in the long haul.
The question arose after third-year man Jarrett Stidham stated that he was “fired up” to be competing against Newton, Jones, and Brian Hoyer on Monday. Newton is taking a similar approach that he always has.
“As far as a chip on my shoulder, I don’t need too much to get myself going,” he said.
Newton is entering Year 2 in the Patriots’ system, but the first in which he will be able to work through all of the team’s offseason programs. He was a late signing in June of 2020, following the league’s decision to institute stringent Covid-19 policies that limited team activities.
“Last season it caught up to me, I was thinking too much and I was trying to be something when there weren’t enough hours in the day [to learn the offensive system],” Newton said. “It’s not like we weren't working, Jedd [Fisch] and I were putting in hours and hours but you can’t simulate real live bullets.”
Not only is it the first full offseason of work in the system for Cam Newton and Mac Jones, but it will be the first for the Patriots in their life after Tom Brady, who departed for Tampa in March of 2020.
With a much better read on the quarterbacks in their system — and a much stronger roster surrounding them — the Patriots, along with their fans, are hoping that Cam Newton is correct in saying that Mac Jones was the “right pick.”