It goes without saying that Cam Newton’s performance for the Patriots in 2020 didn’t live up to expectations. Newton threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions over 15 games, and that’s one of the primary reasons that the Patriots finished under .500 for the first time in two decades.
Still, Bill Belichick sees some potential in Newton, and he’s back with the Patriots in 2021 on a one-year deal. Newton is 31 years old, though, and keeping him around short-term certainly won’t prevent them from locking up the Patriots’ quarterback of the future in the 2021 draft.
Which brings us to Pats Pulpit’s pick in our 2021 NFL writers’ mock draft: Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
There’s no question the Patriots have been actively looking to upgrade the quarterback position even with the re-signing of Cam Newton. Jones has been mocked anywhere between No. 3 to No. 20 throughout the offseason and still remains the biggest wild card heading into this year’s draft.
He is certainly an interesting prospect, though, who showed flashes all season long of being able to be a competent starter in the NFL. His biggest strength is his ability to pick defenses apart with his pre-snap adjustments and full-field progressions. Jones works the pocket better than any prospect in the class and had impressive success last season due to his elite ball-placement and timing throws.
#Patriots Draft Target Thread: QB Mac Jones 6’2” 205lbs— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) January 26, 2021
As many know, Jones is an interesting prospect. Nothing he does is overly impressive/going to jump out on film. However, extremely smart, efficient with his full field progressions and an assassin from inside the pocket. pic.twitter.com/cPFhctexcI
Timing and ball placement is Jones specialty. Operates extremely well from inside the pocket and rarely makes the wrong decision. Of course, all the talent around him/schemed up to succeed but he shows many flashes of being able to succeed in the league.pic.twitter.com/gnfgEaqkfM— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) January 26, 2021
Here it is again. Double coverage, tight window and drops it right in the bucket. Limited athletically and didn’t operate much from outside the pocket but Jones fits the #Patriots scheme perfectly. Good project with potentially a lot of upside. pic.twitter.com/aQzU4nqBxD— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) January 26, 2021
He may not be the “sexiest” among the top five quarterback prospects in 2021 due to his limitations outside the pocket, but he has great awareness and repeatedly showed his ability to move up in the pocket when feeling the heat and deliver a strike on time.
Jones fits the Patriots offense by winning due to pre-snap reads, anticipation throws and the ability to get the ball out on time.
Best prospects remaining:
- Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
- Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
- Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
- Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State