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Evaluating the 2021 Rookie Class: Mac Jones

Justin Lad has a deeper look at the New England rookie QB, Mac Jones.

The preseason has kicked off, and we’re back breaking down the next 2021 rookie quarterback in my countdown, Mac Jones. Entering the draft, many presumed Jones was the guy San Francisco coveted at the 1.03. As always, things we thought we knew entering the draft didn’t pan out.

Jones fell to New England at fifteenth overall, which could be quite the steal for New England. Jones is an interesting prospect who reminds me of Matt Cassel without the rushing element.

Via the Boston Globe

The Positives of Mac Jones

This past season, Jones took over for Tua Tagovailoa with high expectations after closing out 2019 with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Needless to say, he didn’t disappoint.

Throughout the season, Jones was quite remarkable, throwing for 4,500 yards and over 40 touchdowns. Oftentimes on film, Jones was poised and knew exactly what to do with the football and had the defense’s number. It’s quite easy to do that with his top-tier talent around you. However, it’s quite remarkable how much ease Jones was able to operate with within the pocket.

Jones has an uncanny ability to throw his receivers open and throw with anticipation. He was able to combine this ability with robust knowledge of the system. Jones was able to read defenses and never looked lost when running the offense. With the robust talent around him, I assumed he would be reliant upon his first reads within the offense. On film, though, he routinely went through his progressions with ease and consistently made the right choices with accurate passes. Mac Jones had so much talent around him it makes finding deficiencies in his game difficult.

Via NBC Sports

The Negatives of Mac Jones

While I enjoyed Jones on film, there were a few causes for concern. He draws comparisons to Burrow, and for good reason. I often find myself asking the same questions I had last year with the consensus 1.01.

My main concern lies in arm strength. It doesn’t appear that Jones has the elite arm talent to fit passes into tight windows on film. He relies heavily on throwing receivers open into open windows. He’ll have to adjust to the speed of the game and face a pass rush, unlike he had to do this past year. All of this while transitioning to a new offense and team.

My other concerns with Jones are twofold. Like Burrow, Jones suffered a meteoric rise up draft boards after one year of starting full time. Too often, we see one-year starters jump up draft boards and disappoint at the next level, ala Mitch Trubisky. Unlike Trubisky, Jones’s ridiculous season was highlighted by De’Vonta Smith running away with the Heisman trophy. I find myself asking if Jones made Smith or vice versa?

The final concern from a fantasy perspective is the lack of rushing upside. The game has evolved in fantasy and real life, with so many signal callers having upside rushing the football. This is not going to change for Jones, and if we’re going all-in, we have to buy into the supporting cast of Nelson Agholor and two-tight end formations to keep Jones afloat. That’s a tall order and one of the biggest questions I have from a fantasy perspective.

The Conclusion

While many questions remain about Jones and his upside, one thing is clear to me: he is falling too far in rookie drafts. I do not have Jones atop my board, but he is worth investing in for any team trying to fill out their quarterback room in a Superflex league. If you’re picking late in the first, that generally means your team is in fairly good shape, which affords you patience with Jones.

As Jones will need time to adjust to the game’s speed and perhaps a retooling of the offense, he will not be relied upon as an every-week starter on a championship team. If Jones can develop and decipher defenses as he did in college, he could wind up being the best value in this year’s class.

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