Rookie Rundown: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

Rookie Rundown: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

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Rookie Rundown: QB Mac Jones, Alabama

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Mac Jones is the wildcard among top rookie quarterbacks. He’s projected to go somewhere between the third-overall pick or the second round. Depends on who you ask. Any winning quarterback from the NCAA National Championship tends to attract attention when they declare for the draft the next year.

Jones sat out his redshirt 2017 season at Alabama and was just the kick holder in 2018 during his first year of action. He was thrown into the starting role for the final four games of 2019 when Tua Tagovailoa was injured.

His claim to fame, aside from being a starter for a championship team, was taking over last year when he threw for 41 touchdowns while leading the Crimson Tide to yet another championship while throwing for a mere 464 yards and five touchdowns against Ohio State. He won the Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, and Manning Awards. He was a finalist for the Heisman that would end up with his teammate – the wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 217 pounds
40 time: 4.68 seconds

Jones spent four years at Alabama but only started for one full season. Winning a national championship helped decide to forego his final year of eligibility  and declare for the draft.

The Crimson Tide star performed at his Pro Day in front of reps for the Titans, Bills, Washington, Vikings, Steelers and Jaguars. He did not “wow” the crowd but didn’t hurt his stock either. He did not use his two all-star wideouts, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, which mirrors what he’ll find in the NFL.

Mac Jones Alabama stats (2018-20)

Year Games Runs Yards TD Pass Complete Yards Avg. TD Int QBR
2018 6 3 (-8) 0 13 5 123 11.0 1 0 143.3
2019 11 16 36 1 141 97 1503 11.7 14 3 186.8
2020 13 35 14 1 402 311 4500 12.8 41 4 203.1

As noted, there is less consensus on where he’ll end up in the draft but he remains one of the coveted Top-5 quarterbacks that may all end up as first-round selections. His stock has risen this spring, but he’s more often the fifth-ranked quarterback. As always, it only takes one team to decide they need a guy who just won the annual biggest game in the NCAA and did so with an impressive effort.

Pros

  • Very intelligent, great at reading defenses
  • Comes from a program that already has him NFL-ready
  • Hard worker
  • Accurate passing
  • High character
  • Good timing
  • Throws a very catchable ball
  • Great poise in the pocket
  • Very competitive
  • Noted team leader on a team packed with all-stars

Cons

  • Average arm strength
  • Lack of mobility locks him in pocket
  • Only one year of real experience
  • Smallest of the Top-5 rookie quarterback prospects
  • Traditional quarterback that is a throwback against his peers
  • Won’t be surrounded by elite talent in every position like at Alabama

Fantasy outlook

Since projections vary considerably, there’s no real consensus on where he will end up. His skill set suggests that he’ll be most valuable in a West Coast offense that can use his ability to read defenses and throw accurate short and intermediate passes. Jones is an example of a player who didn’t necessarily have the elite physical measurables, but could compensate for that with high intellect, hard work and sharp leadership skills.

His success was just one year. And playing for that Alabama team that was stuffed with talent makes evaluating him tougher to separate what was him and what was the rest of the team. He did play with DeVonta Smith, the first wideout to win the Heisman in 29 years.

To his detriment, he’s not the typical RPO-style quarterback that is succeeding more and more in the NFL. He’s not going to net any real rushing yards and that impacts his eventual fantasy value. He’s no gunslinger.

His best landing spot would be a team with a West Coast offense. He’d be best served working behind a solid O-line (okay, like everyone else). He doesn’t project to turn into a top fantasy quarterback with no rushing production and an expectation that he’d better fit with a dink-n-dunk offense. He’s garnered expectations of being more of a game manager. But it depends on where he lands and that could be anywhere from the third-overall pick to the second round.

There is speculation that the recent draft trades were made so that the 49ers can secure Jones with the No. 3 overall pick. If true, it is an offense he would fare better in – complex scheme focused on shorter passing and ball control. Attached to a great defense so game managing is part of the job.

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