Mac Jones heard his name called 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, becoming the fifth quarterback selected out of an impressive group of prospects at the position. Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Justin Fields were all taken ahead of him before the New England Patriots picked him up.
Adding Jones was a good decision for the Patriots. Not only did he prove to be the top rookie quarterback in the NFL last season, he also was a better prospect than any of the QBs available this year — at least according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
Speaking with reporters on a conference call on Thursday, Kiper Jr. explained that Jones would have been the top passer available had he entered in 2022 instead of 2021.
“I’d say if you put Mac in this class, he’d probably be right there with Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis. I remember last year, he was the fifth quarterback taken but I had him higher than that at No. 4,” Kiper said.
“If you don’t know what you know right now, if he was coming out of Alabama, where would he go? On talent, Malik would still be a guy we’re talking about and we’d probably put Mac right ahead of Kenny Pickett. So it would be Malik on talent, but Mac probably would’ve edged him out.”
Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis out of Liberty are the consensus top two at the quarterback position this year, and will likely hear their names called in the first round. However, both are lower-graded prospects than Mac Jones.
“Malik doesn’t have the grade that Trey Lance did. Mac probably would’ve edged all the quarterbacks out,” Kiper Jr. added. “Knowing what we know now, we’d put him No. 1. But if you just go by what we knew coming out of Alabama, he’d still be No. 1 and Malik would’ve fallen in at No. 2.”