Cam Newton and Mac Jones have a lot more in common than just the letters in their first names. They also both play the quarterback position for the New England Patriots, and entered the NFL as first-round draft selections.
One big difference, however, is that Newton was drafted in 2011. Jones joined the league, and the Patriots, as the 15th overall pick this spring.
Despite the different levels of experience, however, the veteran can relate to what the rookie is going through at this early point in his career. Like Newton when he was drafted first overall by the Carolina Panthers a decade ago, after all, Jones also was brought aboard with some sky-high expectations.
“I’ve been there before,” Newton said about his young teammate during a recent media conference call. “I’ve been a rookie, and I’ve been a first-round pick where so much is asked from you coming from a situation where you have a lot of people that are your peers, your same age group. And now, what is Mac, 21, 22? I’m 32. And [Brian Hoyer]’s 35, 36. So, it’s tough.”
The expectations for Jones are obvious given his draft status. Whether it happens in 2021 or at a later point, he will take over as New England’s starting quarterback and ideally hold down the fort for years to come — similar to what the team had in former starters Drew Bledsoe and, most prominently, Tom Brady.
Once the Alabama product is able to advance to QB1 status, he also will push Newton from the top of the depth chart. Even with this scenario hanging over his head as early as this year’s training camp, however, the incumbent starter has called the Jones selection “the right pick” in the first round of the draft. He also spoke highly about what the rookie has brought to the table during his two months in the system.
“Mac and Cheese, he’s pretty cool. He’s quiet, and I think he’s trying to figure everybody out,” Newton said. “He’s doing a great job with being everything as advertised. From a leadership perspective, he’s holding himself accountable. And that’s all you can ask for from a young player.”
It remains to be seen how Jones will adapt to the rigors of training camp, but he has shown considerable promise during mandatory minicamp last week: the Patriots put a lot on his plate, but he seemed to handle the information and pressure well.