Former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones fell short of winning the Heisman Trophy as that went to his teammate DeVonta Smith, but he was the quarterback of the national championship team in 2020. Jones put together one of the best statistical seasons from a quarterback in college football history in his junior year. In 13 games last season, Jones completed 77.4% of his passes for 4,500 with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions. Whether that will lead to success at the NFL level remains to be seen.
There are plenty of reasons to think Jones will succeed in the pros, but he is not the most talented quarterback in this draft class. He proved his accuracy in college, nearly completing 80% of his passes, but it’s an Alabama offense that produces insane statistics for the quarterback position. One of the biggest question marks will be his arm strength, which is much more important in the NFL than it is in the college. Jones is unlikely to do much damage in the pros with his legs as a true pocket passer, but plenty of quarterbacks make it work in the NFL without being much of a running threat.
Mock Draft landing spots
Nothing about the NFL Draft is 100% certain, but Jones appears to be on a tier of his own behind the first group of quarterbacks that include Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance.
Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports has Jones landing at the No. 9 spot to the Denver Broncos. Chad Reuter of NFL.com has him heading to the Chicago Bears at No. 11. Also at NFL.com, Lance Zierlein projects the Carolina Panthers to land Jones in the eighth spot.
Fantasy impact: Rookie year
Jones is unlikely to be a high-impact player in his first year in the NFL. Obviously, this is going to depend on where he lands, but it’s certainly possible he starts out on the bench and learns from a veteran for several weeks of his rookie year. NFL teams are getting more and more impatient in wanting to see their future of the franchise get started, so he will likely see the field at some point in 2021 no matter where he goes. Regardless, there is enough talent at the quarterback position that Jones probably doesn’t need to be selected in standard leagues.
Fantasy impact: Career
While expecting instant success in his first season might be a stretch, it’s certainly possible Jones could carve out a nice career for himself. He proved he can handle the big stage and put up some incredible stats in college, but there is reason to be cautious with his professional future. It might be unfair to compare the two, but Tua Tagovailoa also dominated in this Alabama offense, and he’s having a tough start to his NFL career. Could the quarterback success in Tuscaloosa be due to Nick Saban’s new offensive philosophy, or is Jones good enough to lead a professional team on his own? He should have a chance to prove himself over the next few years.