Bill Belichick had never taken a quarterback in the first round during his 21 years as the Patriots’ head coach, though. So what did he and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels like about Jones leading up to the draft? It started with his ability to win with the Crimson Tide.
“Look, Mac, he’s won a lot of games in the last year-plus at Alabama,” McDaniels told reporters on Thursday, via NESN.com.
It’s not just about Jones’ ability to win. The former Alabama star was intercepted just four times in 13 games last season, playing against high-level competition in the SEC.
“He’s played in some big games, some pressure situations. He takes care of the football,” McDaniels continued. “He’s demonstrated an ability to function at a pretty high level in their system and their offense with their terminology. He competed in a league that is, I would say, is widely regarded as one of the top conferences, if not the top conference, in all of college football. To play the position of quarterback there’s not just one thing you need to do well. He certainly stood out in certain obvious ways relative to throwing the football and command and protecting the ball and not hurting his football team.”
Mac Jones will eventually be the Patriots’ starting and presumed franchise quarterback. First, he’ll have to beat out the veteran Cam Newton.
The former NFL MVP struggled in his first season in New England last year. He’ll need a strong early-season showing later this year to fend off Jones.
The Patriots begin their 2021 campaign on Sunday, Sept. 12 against the Miami Dolphins.