Mac Jones 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report
One of the most opinion dividing players to enter this year's draft class, we take a look at Mac Jones today - the National Championship winning quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
By James Pike
Follow us on Twitter @GridironXtra
Join our group on Facebook
Mac Jones NFL Draft Profile
Mac Jones - QB, Alabama
Height - 6’2”
Weight - 217lbs
Class - Redshirt Junior
Hometown - Jacksonville, FL
Mac Jones, the former 4-star recruit out of Bolles State high school was the 162nd ranked recruit from the 2016 high school class as well as being the number nine rated pro style quarterback. Originally committing to University of Kentucky, Nick Saban recruited Jones who decided to enrol with the University of Alabama. Jones was redshirted in his freshman year with the Crimson Tide, but coach Saban was already impressed with the young quarterback who made significant strides to improve his mechanics during his first year at Bama.
His redshirt freshman season began with Jones being the primary backup quarterback to future fifth overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, however despite Tua being the starter, Jones still saw some playing time. Usually towards the end of games or as a placeholder on special teams. He showed off his potential as a future starter for the Crimson Tide against Louisiana when he connected on a 94-yard touchdown to Jaylen Waddle. That play was the second longest scoring play in the school’s history at the time.
During his sophomore season Jones got the opportunity to start for Bama, as the previously mentioned Tagovailoa went down to a season ending hip injury in their game against Mississippi state. Jones played the rest of the season as the team’s starter and was impressive during this four-game stretch. His most impressive performance came against Michigan where Jones went 16 of 25 for three touchdowns, zero interceptions for 327 yards. Jones showcased his talents enough to earn the starting job for Alabama in the 2020 season.
The 2020 college football season was affected greatly due to the Coronavirus pandemic; however, Jones was able to lead Alabama to one of the most successful seasons in college football history.
As a junior, Mac Jones started every game and led the team to an undefeated season where he completed 77% of his passes, threw for 4,500 yards through the air and connected on 41 touchdown passes to just four interceptions. During the National Championship game Jones excelled throwing for 464 yards and five touchdowns to help lead Bama to another National Championship.
For me the biggest strength to Mac Jones’ game is the way that he works through his progressions. Having watched tape Jones doesn’t get fixated on his first read which is often the case for collegiate athletes. Jones is able to quickly go through his progressions and showed enough patience for the play to come to him. This was helped of course by the fact that Alabama had so many weapons on offense, however Jones was able to show poise in the pocket and find the right receiver more often than not.
Another one of Jones’ most underrated qualities is his ability to move round in the backfield, showing great awareness of his surroundings and climbing the pocket when making his throws. This is a skill which NFL teams covet from college quarterbacks, and there is plenty of tape which showcases Jones moving up in the pocket in order to make his throws.
Jones is also an underrated athlete who can avoid pressure when it is necessary. He isn’t the same type of an athlete as someone like Justin Fields or Trey Lance, but he does have enough in the tank to avoid pressure, and he rarely holds onto the ball for too long.
Jones is also a very accurate quarterback on his short to mid-range throws. He often puts the ball in a spot where only his receiver can make the catch, but not allowing defenders to make a play on the ball. Many scouts have advised that Jones could be the most pro ready of all the prospects not named Trevor Lawrence due to his ability to put the ball in the perfect spot for his receiver to make a play.
My personal favourite attribute which I have seen on tape from Mac Jones is his ability to move defenders with his eyes and his fakes. Jones showcases this ability time and again during his junior season with Bama, as he is able to move defenders with his eyes, freezing them for a split second before making his throws. This is of course a skillset which will transition very well to the professional game. NFL defenders are much smarter and more athletic than in college, so being able to manipulate safeties and corners using his eyes and shoulder fakes is something that all scouts look for when evaluating quarterbacks and Jones does this very well.
I cannot talk about Mac Jones as a prospect without discussing the elephant in the room which is his arm strength. Now although Jones doesn’t exactly have a noodle of an arm like many have suggested it is plain to see that he doesn’t have the arm talent of players such as Fields, Wilson or Lawrence.
There are some occasions when Jones has thrown the deep ball where it doesn’t have enough velocity on the throw and the receiver doesn’t catch the ball in stride. However, I don’t think that Jones necessarily has a weak arm. It would be great for every quarterback in the league to be able to throw 60-yard bombs effortlessly like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen can, but that just isn’t realistic, and Jones’ arm strength isn’t a massive concern for me.
The biggest issue I have with Jones is his ball placement at times. Having gone through his game tape and watching his sideline throws Jones will often lead the receiver closer to the numbers rather than towards the sideline. This is something that he will not be able to get away with at the NFL level, as more physical corners will be able to win the battle and get to the ball leading to easy interceptions. Jones needs to be able to get the ball further towards the sideline to avoid turnovers in the professional game. Giving his receiver a better opportunity to catch the ball whilst also not allowing defenders the chance to make a play.
Another issue that I have found with Jones’ game is his awareness and pre snap recognitions. Jones at times doesn’t recognise where the backside corner is on the play. This is a big issue Jones will have to address at the NFL level as professional corners are faster, stronger and smarter. Not being able to identify this at the next level will lead to easy turnovers and it is something that coaches will have to spend some time working on with the young quarterback.
The only other issue that I could potentially look at when considering Jones as a potential franchise quarterback is his athleticism. This isn’t a major area of concern, but with the way the league is transitioning away from pocket passers at the quarterback position to players with more of a dual threat ability.
Jones simply isn’t the athlete as some of his collegiate peers. As I have said this isn’t a major concern, but I am curious to see how he performs during his pro day to see how he stacks up in terms of his running ability.
Mac Jones Pro Comparison
When I watch Jones’ game, I can see similarities between himself and pocket passers such as Kirk Cousins or the recently retired Philip Rivers. Jones is much more athletic than what Rivers was during his heyday, but when it comes to avoiding pressure in the pocket Jones definitely slides out of the way of pressure. You won’t see much of Jones scrambling for his life away from defenders, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as previously mentioned.
If Jones can continue to work on his decision making and throw the ball away when the play isn’t there he will do fine at the next level. I also see a bit of Cousins in Jones, as he rarely makes mistakes, and does well protecting the football and his receivers. Not allowing them to take unnecessary hits. If Jones can have a similar type of career as Kirk Cousins in the NFL, then that is certainly not a bad thing.
Mac Jones Overview
All in all, I have liked what I have seen when watching tape of the Alabama quarterback. Just a week or so ago I was absolutely against Jones being a first-round pick, but that was mostly because of my preconceived notions of him having a bad arm. Although I do believe that being selected in the top 20 spots in the draft might be a reach for the junior, I can absolutely see his name being called earlier due to how many teams are currently in need of a quarterback in the NFL. In terms of his overall talent, I fully believe that he is worthy of at least a high second round grade, but in the ever-changing power struggle known as the National Football League, Jones will not be on the board when we roll into day two of the 2021 NFL Draft in April.
2021 NFL Draft Projection
5th Quarterback to be taken in the top 20 picks.
Mac Jones' Best Fit
In terms of teams which would be a good fit for Jones’ I believe a team such as the New England Patriots or the Indianapolis Colts would be the ideal scenario for the young signal caller. These are two teams with good to great offensive line play who can protect the quarterback with a great coaching staff to help iron out his issues before the start of preseason.
2021 NFL Draft Final Prediction
The New England Patriots select Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick.