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NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: QB Mac Jones

  • The Draft Network
  • December 21, 2020
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PROSPECT SUMMARY

Mac Jones’ athletic genes are littered throughout his family, but it all started with his father, Gordon Jones. Playing at both Florida State and later Flagler University, he went on to lead the program to an NAIA national title in 1977. His mother, Holly Jones, played tennis at Mercer College, and his older brother, Will, would follow in her footsteps, but as a soccer player (2012-2015). Jones also has a sister, Sarah Jane, who played tennis at the College of Charleston (2014-2018). Jones’ parents are both partners at the same law firm in Jacksonville, FL (Jones & McCorkle). He hopes one day to become an attorney and own his own practice down the road. Attending high school at The Bolles School, Jones was a prolific player at one of the top private school programs in Florida. As a 4-star recruit, he originally intended to sign with Kentucky, but he changed his mind, leading him to sign with the Crimson Tide.

After the injury to Tua Tagovailoa during the 10th game of the 2019 season, Jones was forced to enter the lineup as the starting QB moving forward. Showing positive signs during the team's final three games, he entered 2020 as the unquestioned starter even though the program signed a highly-touted 5-star recruit to be the heir apparent. During his junior season, Jones displayed many of the traits that he demonstrated during the three-game backstretch of his sophomore campaign. A bit of a slender thrower, Jones doesn’t possess a hint of definition or muscle in his body structure. A clear leader and very smart player at the position, he understands where all options are when going through progressions. Having a clear understanding of object reads that involve run-pass options as well as multiple level progressions, he’s well seasoned with the verbiage and variety of concepts that will be required of him on the next level. 

Containing average arm strength, he’s an underrated deep passer that’s able to layer the ball into adequate spots for perimeter targets. As an anticipatory thrower, he’s well above average with “about to be open” throws of where he releases the ball while estimating where targets are going to be. Balance and savvy within the pocket are top-tier traits, as he’s an excellent mover within the pocket and knows how to create windows of opportunities to release throws with a cleaner view than previously offered. Jones isn’t a passer that will make a living creating off-script plays outside of structure, but he has enough mobility to take advantage of the grass offered to him. Jones is a passer that will need the three P’s surrounding him (playmakers, play-caller, protection) at high-tier levels in order to see his full potential on a consistent basis, as he isn’t a thrower that will be able to overcome those elements being at a lower-tier level.

Ideal Role: Lower tier starting QB.

Scheme Fit: West Coast or Erhardt-Perkins offensive system—quick rhythm-based throws with periodic deep shots down the field.

FILM EVALUATION

Written by Jordan Reid

Games watched: Auburn (2019), Michigan (2019), LSU (2020), Auburn (2020), Kentucky (2020), Ole Miss (2020), Texas A&M (2020), Mississippi State (2020), Missouri (2020), Georgia (2020), Florida (2020)

Best Game Studied: Michigan (2019), Texas A&M (2020), Ole Miss (2020), Georgia (2020), Florida (2020)

Worst Game Studied: Auburn (2019), Kentucky (2020)

Accuracy: The former Alabama QB is an accurate thrower who takes full advantage of voided coverages in the short to intermediate areas of the field. The Crimson Tide offense was able to mix in occasional shots down the field where Jones was able to display his deep-ball accuracy, but there were some throws down the field where his lack of accuracy showed up—mainly when targets got too far down the field for him and he simply didn’t have the “umph” behind it in order to reach certain destinations. His ball placement is consistent, as he helps receivers out with their post-snap process by delivering the ball to them in correct placements to get yards after the catch.

Decision Making: Since taking over for Tua Tagovailoa following the early stages of the 2019 season, the Alabama offense hasn’t missed a beat. 

Poise: Considering the heightened circumstances that he faced when entering last season as the backup quarterback that quickly had to become the starter, his preparedness and intellect with playing the position were exhibited in 2019. Carrying that over to 2020, the increase in playing time has expedited his development to become one of the top passers in the country. Despite the surrounding elements, he’s consistently been able to put the ball in the correct spots and the magnitude of moments haven’t phased him. His calmness in the pocket is one of his best traits. Not containing a panic button in his body, he’s wise with knowing where his outlet throws are. Quick to throw check-downs, swings, or options designed in the scheme to get him out of trouble, he seems to know exactly where they are when faced with danger.  

Progressions: Jones’ decision making in all three levels of the field was well above average as he’s required to constantly perform multi-step progressions. A sign of how well he understands how to funnel through them cleanly, he’s not afraid to dump the ball to the running back as the last option in progressions. Like the long hand on an old school analog clock, it’s easy to see Jones get through his first, second, third, and sometimes even fourth option in his reads. His ability to perform the process of elimination while going through progressions is an area that he’s shown consistency with. 

Release: Jones has a ¾ release that has a strong wrist snap behind it. His passes come out of his hand with velocity, but the closer they get to targets, the more they can tend to die. Seen on far hash throws and when targeting options down the field in one-on-one situations, receivers were forced to stop and turn back for the ball.  

Pocket Manipulation: Arguably the best part of Jones’ game is how he’s able to shuffle and maneuver within the pocket to work and find new avenues to throw the ball when the pocket is bearing down on him. Always keeping his eyes up and hardly ever glancing down at the rush, he’s aware of where targets are relocating to even though he has to alter his body in order to reset and make throws. His lower half is always active and works to find clearer windows in order to make visible throws. For what he lacks in mobility outside of the pocket, he makes up for it within it. Jones is outstanding with being able to feel traffic within the pocket and successfully getting out of harm's way in order to get throws off cleanly. Subtle movements with his lower body in all four directions help him evade pressure and throw from cleaner sightlines.

Arm Strength: Jones is an underrated deep passer who has the gift of touch plus being able to anticipate where targets will end up. Knowing that he has slightly above-average arm strength, he’s aware of estimating where wideouts will be and throwing them to spots that are well within his arm strength range. Jones releases the ball well before targets appear to be open with full trust that they will eventually end up in the spots that he’s throwing to. Seen on vertical shots down the field as well as targets over the middle, his ability to see things before they happen and make anticipatory throws help overcompensate for the lack of arm strength that he contains.

Mobility: Life outside of the pocket won’t be easy for him as he is a below-average athlete that will struggle to get out of harm's way when exiting the pocket. While not a complete statue, Jones will struggle with outracing defenders that are closing the gaps on him. Consistently creating off-script plays or ones outside of the original design won’t be areas that he makes a living doing. Able to perform rollout, bootlegs, and nakeds, those are the only types of plays that he will be able to consistently execute outside of the pocket.

Leadership: Took over as the starter down the backstretch of last season and it was a seamless transition from a highly-touted QB to Jones. Prior to the season, he was named as one of four team captains—his first time earning the honor. On the field, he has the respect of teammates and coaches. His ability to redirect traffic and get players in the correct spot is seen throughout his film as he can make solutions out of prior problems. Having the autonomy to get the offense into better situations is the range of decision making that he’s been provided by the offensive coaching staff.

Mechanics: Jones has clean mechanics above the waist and a clean motion when the ball comes out. His ability as a quick thinker and decisiveness when throwing on the perimeter help him get the ball out in an instant. Where Jones’ biggest improvements will need to come is below the knees. He’s excellent with moving around and finding new throwing windows in the pocket, but he has a tendency to lock his front leg (left) and fadeaway from throws while throwing with all of his might. Bending his knees and keeping that same balance when throwing from clean pockets will not only help him drive the ball more consistently, but puts less reliance on his sub-par arm in order to get throws from point A to point B. 

Prospect Comparison: Andy Dalton (2011 NFL Draft, Cincinnati Bengals)

SCOUT GRADES

TDN Consensus: 79.00 / 100

Joe Marino: 77.50/100

Jordan Reid: 80.00/100

Drae Harris: 81.00/100

Kyle Crabbs: 77.50/100

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