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Senior Bowl

Taking a closer look at Alabama’s Mac Jones and the other Senior Bowl quarterbacks

Alabama's Mac Jones solidified his status as a first-round pick, displaying excellent footwork and decision-making during Senior Bowl week.Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

MOBILE, Ala. — Jabril Cox was in perfect position, yet he was left helpless because Mac Jones’s pass was just a bit more perfect.

Cox, LSU’s talented linebacker, picked up Tre’ McKitty as the Georgia tight end ran a drag route across the second level of the defense during Wednesday’s Senior Bowl practice.

Jones, who helped lead Alabama to the national title a few weeks back, surveyed the coverage and lofted a pass where only McKitty could collect the ball — and a few style points for the one-handed snag.

It was the kind of play that Jones has been making routinely for the Crimson Tide since he took over for an injured Tua Tagovailoa in 2019.

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Jones was calm, cool, and in command all week before a rolled ankle late in Thursday’s session prematurely ended his final practice. It was just a minor bump on what was a major week for the 6-foot-3-inch, 214-pound quarterback.

Jones solidified his status as a first-round pick, displaying excellent footwork and decision-making. With only a few hours to absorb a playbook, some tend to rely on their first reads, yet Jones was able to read through progressions and deliver accurate passes. Unofficially, he threw just one interception, and that came during a seven-on-seven drill.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who was running the American squad, was impressed with Jones’s ability to come in and hit the ground running. Well, throwing.

“The guy was just playing two weeks ago,” said Rhule, who is in the market for a franchise quarterback. “The fact that he’s here, I think, speaks a lot about who he is. You get a chance to see his intelligence. He processes information quickly, highly intelligent. He’s an alpha.’’

Critics often point to the fact that Jones had a stacked supporting cast around him in Tuscaloosa, but he worked seamlessly with a new group of pass catchers during the week. His predecessors, Jalen Hurts and Tagovailoa, also worked with talented groups in college and have transitioned nicely to the NFL. Jones believes he’ll be next.

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“I feel good about [following in their footsteps],’’ said Jones. “I learned a lot from those guys. Obviously two great guys and they’ve done well so far in the [NFL]. But I’m going to have a lot of growing pains just like everybody else, and I’ve got to figure out what works in the NFL versus what worked in college. It’s going to take some trial and error, but that’s part of life. So, hopefully I can figure it out.’’

Jones has been linked to the Patriots in several mock drafts and met with the club’s scouts this past week. He also said Tom Brady is one of the quarterbacks he likes to watch on film and model his game after.

“All the big-time guys,’’ said Jones. “Just take something from their game, but I always tell people I’m my own player and I like to do what works for me. I can’t try to be somebody else.”

Here’s how the rest of the quarterbacks looked over the three practice sessions.

Ian Book, Notre Dame: He was deservedly voted the top quarterback on the National squad by his teammates. Flashed excellent footwork, set up quickly, and was sneaky fast when escaping the pocket.

Lacks classic size (6 feet, 206 pounds) but has excellent ball-handling skills, protects the football, puts a nice zip on his passes, and can improvise and adapt when plays and protections break down.

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Book has big-game experience, plays with great energy and competitiveness, and is a clear leader. He mentioned Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Baker Mayfield as guys he likes to emulate.

“Those are the guys I like watching play. Similar game play, similar stature, and they’re just all ballers, they just want to win, that’s what they do. And you can tell they’re so competitive. And I think I have that in me,’' said Book, who said he planned on meeting with the Patriots.

Jamie Newman, Wake Forest: After three seasons with the Demon Deacons, he transferred to Georgia last year but opted out, and Bulldogs fans are still salty about it.

The 6-3, 235-pounder had to knock off considerable rust — there were some early poor reads and picks — but there’s a lot to like, and he improved each day. He throws ropes and has great deep-ball accuracy. Newman, who said he met with the Patriots here, shows off nice athleticism and footspeed.

Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: Flashed nice athleticism, ball skills, and decision-making, especially when running some run-pass option plays in the red zone.

The 6-2, 217-pounder was a little harried early on but settled down and made some good decisions and decent throws. The third practice was his best.

Sam Ehlinger, Texas: Displayed a nice touch on flares and good zip on intermediate routes, but his comparative lack of arm strength was evident at times when he went for deep shots.

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Is undersized (6-1, 222) and isn’t a big threat to make plays with his feet, but Ehlinger is an experienced and competitive leader.

Feleipe Franks, Arkansas: A physical specimen at 6-6, 234, the Florida transfer has the strongest arm of this six-pack. Threw gorgeous, tight spirals in every direction during warm-ups and individual drills.

Locked on to his primary receiver a ton during the week and it often led to bad throws and indecisiveness when the target wasn’t open. Would have been sacked a handful of times but was saved because croaking the quarterback was verboten.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.