At first glance, Mac Jones doesn't jump off the page as an athlete, and doesn't have the same pedigree as a guy like Trevor Lawrence. He proved that he was one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year, his first as a full-time starter for Alabama, vaulting himself into the high-first round conversation.
Jones' draft stock climbed steadily throughout the year, as he put up Heisman-worthy numbers and Alabama kept winning. By the time he led the team to the national championship over Ohio State, he was pretty locked in as a first round pick. Now, the question is how high he can go.
Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance have been penciled in as high first rounders all year. BYU's Zach Wilson is one of this year's Joe Burrow-esque climbers, and is the favorite to go No. 2 to the New York Jets, after the Jacksonville Jaguars take Lawrence. With yesterday's San Francisco 49ers trade up to No. 3, there's a strong contingent who think Jones will jump Fields and Lance and be the pick.
As his profile continues to rise, Trey Wingo has done some reading on Mac Jones' background. He uncovered a 2019 Sports Illustrated piece about Jones, the then-backup to Tua Tagovailoa who had been thrust into the starting lineup, that detailed his dominance in practice all the way back in 2017, when he was a true freshman behind Tua and Jalen Hurts on the depth chart. Head coach Nick Saban told Jones to stop throwing it deep to Tyrell Shavers as the scout team QB against Alabama's famously-stout defense. Jones' response to his legendary head coach: "Well, tell your defense to stop it."
It isn't a new anecdote, but it's received a ton of new life thanks to Wingo's tweet. The story, shared by former Alabama safety Jared Mayden, shows just how confident Jones was even as a true freshmen.
He was in the same recruiting class as blue-chip quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Given Alabama's recruiting prowess, there are plenty who didn't think he'd ever be a huge factor for the Crimson Tide. Even this offseason, there was wide speculation that he'd lose a position battle to five-star freshman Bryce Young.
Instead, he put in the best season any Alabama football QB has ever had. Opposing defenses can take some solace in the fact that not even Saban's defense could stop him when he was on.