Mac Jones

Is Mac Jones Worth the Hype?

  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • 2021 NFL Draft Prospects
  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Mac Jones
  • NFL
  • NFl Draft
  • QB
  • Quarterback
By John Vogel February 23, 2021 0 Comment
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John Vogel breaks down whether Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is really worth the first-round pick or if he’s another potential bust in the NFL.

Alabama quarterback and NFL Draft prospect, Mac Jones, managed to blow up social media to start off the week.

After projections surfaced from major NFL analysts putting Jones in the first round, and the growing rumors that he will be selected early, Jones blew up social media with the debate between fans and analysts about the worthiness of Jones being selected so early. This has quickly become a heated topic because of the nature of Jones’ rise to fame.

Jones was the back-up in Tuscaloosa until late in the 2019 season when Tua Tagovailoa fell victim to a horrific hip injury that removed him from the field for the remainder of the season. Jones stepped into the light but ultimately couldn’t lead Alabama to their chance to compete for an SEC title or a playoff run with the close shootout loss in the Iron Bowl to Auburn.

Read: Reasonably Assessing the Most Controversial 2021 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects. 

Jones returned and, in arguably the most challenging college football season in history, put together one of the most prolific seasons we have seen yet. Alabama was the only team in 2020 to play FBS football and not suffer a loss. Jones himself posted Heisman-worthy numbers and was a finalist for the prestigious award. He placed third in the voting.

Now, as he prepares to enter the NFL, many analysts still doubt whether Jones is prepared to make the leap, or if he has the skillset to compete at the professional level.

Let’s break it down then, shall we?

Here’s what started the conversation

Former NFL general manager-turned-television-analyst, Mike Tannenbaum, made a bold statement about where Mac Jones could potentially be drafted. Tannenbaum said that Jones would not make it past the 8th overall pick to the Carolina Panthers. I myself recently mocked Jones to the 15th overall pick to the New England Patriots, in a mock draft that did not include trades. Listen to what Tannenbaum said on ESPN’s flagship morning show, Get Up:

Tannenbaum said that Panthers head coach, Matt Rhule, loved Jones at the Senior Bowl back at the end of January and that “the Senior Bowl connection is real.” Rhule himself was quoted saying that he was impressed with who he is.

“He has some very strong traits,” Rhule told reporters when asked about Jones. “He is the first guy in the running. The guy was just playing two weeks ago, so the fact that he’s here speaks a lot about who he is. You have a chance to see his intelligence. He makes quick decisions. He processes information quickly.”

Twitter analysts disagree, citing that Jones has arm talent concerns.

Mac Jones does have arm talent concerns

I think that for some offenses in the NFL, concerns of Jones and his arm talent are real. If there is an offense that wants their quarterback to throw fifty times a game, I think that Jones would certainly struggle in that situation. However, I don’t think that Jones has deep ball ability concerns – he has deep ball quantity concerns. Believe it or not, Jones throws one of the best and most catchable deep balls in football. Check these out:

I think we should all be able to agree that Jones can hit the deep ball and has an arm strong enough for the NFL. However, in the case that video doesn’t convince you, here are some advanced stats from PFF; Jones completed 33 of his 56 pass attempts over twenty yards last year, throwing 17 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. He was absolutely sensational when throwing the ball down the field.

Which QB Has the Best Deep Ball in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Groupthink does not agree, however

I’ve talked about the problems of groupthink on social media before and the dangers that it poses to analysts and fans who “ride the rollercoaster” so to speak. Groupthink, in the case of the NFL Draft, has a tendency to take an opinion early on in the process and stick with it. The reality is that factors are changing, different teams have different preferences based on schemes, and there isn’t a “plug into any system and play” type quarterback.

People were quick to point out that Mike Tannenbaum was the general manager that drafted Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick. It’s true, he was the general manager who made that decision. Regardless, I think that people are too quick to disregard opinions that don’t match what they perceive as reality. They instead turn to slander the person who made the opinion. The perception over the entirety of the college football season was that Mac Jones wasn’t good enough to be an NFL quarterback.

I decided to test that theory when I posted Jones’ stats on Twitter without his name. I asked users on Twitter to tell me what quarterback it was. Several people took guesses. I heard BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, and even Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

Groupthink is dangerous because of the pressure that it puts on people to think one way and not allow their minds to be open to multiple options. Football is such a beautiful sport because it encourages creativity – and the most creative teams oftentimes see the most success.

Pro tools that cannot be ignored

Being able to get a throw out with timing and anticipation is one of the most difficult things to do in the NFL. Doing it with pressure in your face, interfering with the timing makes that even harder. Jones makes these throws at Alabama and placing the ball perfectly on target.

Pocket awareness is the ability to naturally feel defenders closing in around you. Many of the best quarterbacks have it – a third eye in the back of their heads that allows them to see it. Jones shows this ability a lot, and people have noticed.

So with Jones’ ability to work through pressure and make good throws, he also doesn’t allow pressure to mess with his timing. The curl route is one of the more common timing routes – it takes repetition and practice for a quarterback and a receiver to build the chemistry together to make the route work. Jones does it, with a defender in his face.

The finishing touches – Mac Jones is legit

Mac Jones is a very good prospect. He doesn’t have an elite trait, as some would call it, but is instead is a solid all-around good quarterback.

Can Jones go before the eighth overall selection? The NFL Draft is known for being crazy and I for one could see it happening. The only other question that remains is if Jones is worthy of that selection – and, again, I believe the answer is yes.

The draft isn’t the end-all, tell-all, final decision regarding the career of a prospect in the league. It’s not. Rather, it’s the beginning of a career at the professional level. Prospects are drafted by what they have already done, not what they are going to do. I would think that the prospect who quarterbacked a National Title team and showed all of these great traits is certainly worthy of being selected early.

All it takes in life to get a job is for one person to believe in you and say yes. All it takes for one person to succeed at a job is for the job to put the proper resources around you to succeed. The NFL Draft is that one person believing in a prospect. A Super Bowl is when the job helps you succeed.

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