The Patriots selected quarterback Mac Jones out of Alabama with the 15th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday. It’s the first time New England has taken a quarterback in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
After weeks of speculation over whether coach Bill Belichick would need to trade up to get a quarterback, Jones, 22, fell right to the Patriots in the middle of the first round.
Here are a few things to know about the newest Patriot:
He’s coming off a staggering season at Alabama
Jones took over as Alabama’s quarterback after Tua Tagovailoa was injured in the 2019 season. As the starter in 2020, Jones set school records and led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season, culminating with a 52-24 win over fellow first-round pick Justin Fields and Ohio State in the national championship game.
Jones threw for 4,500 yards, completing 77.4 percent of his passes, in his junior season at Alabama in 2020. He passed for 41 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
“His accuracy and ball placement stand out and he throws a very catchable football with consistent touch on it,” noted NFL analyst Lance Zierlein before the draft.
He is from Florida
Jones’s hometown is Jacksonville, Fla., and he played high school football at The Bolles School. As a senior in 2016, Jones helped Bolles reach the Florida 4A state championship game, which it lost.
His full name is Michael McCorkle Jones. His birthday is Sept. 5, 1998.
He was projected by many to go third overall
After the 49ers traded up to get the third overall pick in March, a consistent string of reports connected Jones to San Francisco. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was among those to report earlier in April that it appeared the 49ers were going to take Jones.
Ultimately, San Francisco decided to take another quarterback: Trey Lance from North Dakota State.
The reasons for Jones sliding to the 15th pick revolve around the regular critiques of his game: That he lacks the ideal “physical tools,” and that he benefited from playing in an offense that also contained several other first-round picks.
He’s drawn comparisons to Tom Brady
The Patriots won six Super Bowls with Brady as the team’s quarterback, so it makes sense that the quarterback New England took in the first round has drawn comparisons to a young Brady.
On multiple occasions, draft analysts have named Brady (in certain respects) as a good NFL comparison to Jones.
“I’ve gotten in trouble before for saying that a few quarterbacks are ‘Tom Brady-like,’ but I’m really talking about accurate, tall pocket passers,” wrote longtime draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. in March. “I’m not predicting that these guys are going to become Hall of Famers. When I watch Jones, I can see some of the traits that have made Brady so good for so long. Jones is a pinpoint thrower who can manipulate the pocket and find targets down the field. He is a leader in the locker room too. This is a good fit.”
He wanted to be drafted by the Patriots
“Secretly, I wanted to go to the Patriots all along,” Jones said. “I’m really happy that happened. I can’t wait to play for the greatest franchise in NFL history.”
He added: “New England’s just a great place. In watching them the past years, they do everything right. It’s all about the team. That’s kind of what I grew up knowing is being a good teammate and then obviously winning. It comes down to winning football games and New England’s done that, but they don’t look in the past, they just look in the future, so we got to just focus on trying to win games and then take it day by day and eventually you’ll win a lot of games. So, I’m just looking forward to getting in there and meeting my new teammates and seeing what happens from there.”
He cites a 2017 DUI as a turning points in his development
During his freshman season in 2017, Jones was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and improper identification by a minor after he was involved in a two-car accident and failed a field sobriety test. No one was injured in the accident.
Jones was suspended for the following game against LSU. In a 2021 profile, Jones told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread that the incident made him to change his priorities.
“I focused on what was important to me, which was football.” Jones told Goodbread. “On nights when people would be going out, I would go to the indoor [football facility], throw into a net, watch film by myself. I’d usually close all the doors.”
His former Alabama teammate Mac Hereford told Goodbread that the DUI may have been a wakeup call.
“For me, that [DUI] incident was a transitional event for Mac,” Hereford said. “He didn’t go out anymore. He locked in and put his head down. He was balling before, but after that it was more of an ‘I’m kicking [butt] and taking names’ kind of vibe.’”
He was part of a legendary Alabama recruiting class
The 2017 Alabama recruiting class, even by the lofty standards of Nick Saban’s program, ranks among the best ever in college football history.
Jones is one of eight players in the 2017 class who has gone on to become a first-round pick in the NFL. Along with Jones himself, the list includes:
- Najee Harris: First-round pick in 2021
- Tua Tagovailoa: First-round pick in 2020
- Alex Leatherwood: First-round pick in 2021
- Jerry Jeudy: First-round pick in 2020
- Jedrick Willis: First-round pick in 2020
- DeVonta Smith: First-round pick in 2021 (2021 Heisman Trophy winner)
- Henry Ruggs III: First-round pick in 2020
- Xavier McKinney: Second-round pick in 2020
Several players in the class (including Jones) were a part of two national championships while at Alabama.
He was a child model
Growing up, Jones played multiple sports, including tennis and soccer. He also dabbled in other modeling.
“I tried it out. My parents always wanted me to try stuff,” Jones told ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit in a pre-draft interview. “They never really pushed me into sports, which is really cool. So I tried modeling [and] acting.”
Though it wasn’t something Jones wanted a serious future in, he believes it’s provided a lasting benefit in terms of his comfortability in front of the camera.
“I just didn’t really ever want to do that long-term, but it was good that I tried it and realized that I didn’t necessarily want to do that,” Jones said, “but I have it under my belt even for stuff like this where you’re just more comfortable here on the camera or things like that.”
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