If you’re a Patriots fan like me, you know that the NFL Draft is about two words when it comes to this team: trade back. It’s how Bill Belichick has built the league’s greatest contemporary franchise. Giving up fewer picks in earlier rounds for more picks later.
Not this year.
For once, the Patriots stayed put at No. 15 and got their guy, and possible quarterback of the future, in former Alabama signal-caller Mac Jones. Something about Jones and Belichick together just feels so… New England. And you know exactly what I mean.
With the selection of Jones, it’s the first time New England has drafted a quarterback in the first round since taking Drew Bledsoe No. 1 overall in 1993, which was five years before Jones was born. With the addition of Jones, the Pats have only selected eight offensive skill players (Terry Glenn 1996, Robert Edwards 1998, Daniel Graham 2002, Ben Watson 2004, Laurence Maroney 2006, Sony Michel 2018, N’Keal Harry 2019) in the first round since Bledsoe.
On a night in which 10 of the first 15 selections were skill players, the Patriots followed the trend. And with Cam Newton on board for at least one more season, it feels like he’s the perfect place holder for a team that had a first-round pick in a draft that was loaded with quarterbacks. So, all New England had to do was sit back and see which one was going to fall in their lap. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson were never going to happen, and Trey Lance was a pipedream. It was going to come down to Justin Fields or Jones, and with the Bears trading up for the former Ohio State quarterback, for once, Belichick didn’t have to do anything to get another Alabama guy on his roster.
“Quite honestly, Mac Jones screams Patriots to me. He just does,” ESPN’s Louis Riddick told The Athletic earlier this week.
“He doesn’t have Patrick Mahomes’ arm. He doesn’t have Deshaun Watson’s arm. He doesn’t have Zach Wilson’s arm. But what he has is the ability to make quick decisions and put the ball on people in a timely fashion that allows them to do what they do. That’s what football is really all about, isn’t it? We’re so much into the aesthetic aspects of football and the fantasy football aspects of football that we get enamored with the guys who have great physical traits. The football graveyard is littered with people who had great physical traits but couldn’t play the game in a team setting. We forget about that every year around draft time because we become enamored with height, weight, speed and arm strength.”
After a dreadful 7-9 season that saw injuries to Stephon Gilmore and Julian Edelman, COVID-19 sacking Newton, and a league-high eight Patriots opting out, New England made sure that a year like 2020 would never happen again. The Patriots spent $159.6 million in guaranteed money in nine days to upgrade their roster. Their offseason additions include Hunter Henry (TE), Matthew Judon (LB), Kyle Van Noy (LB), James White (RB), Nelson Agholor (WR), Lawrence Guy (DT), Jonnu Smith (TE), David Andrews (C), Montravius Adams (DT), Nick Folk (K), Jalen Mills (S), Kendrick Bourne (WR), Davon Godchaux (DT), Deatrich Wise Jr. (DE), Ted Karras (C), Henry Anderson (DT), Carl Davis (DT), Justin Bethel (CB), Cody Davis (S), LaRoy Reynolds (LB), Raekwon McMillan (LB), and Newton.
After sitting behind Heisman finalists Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama, Jones — a Heisman finalist — will back up Newton — a Heisman winner — for the time being. But don’t get it twisted, if this works out as it should, Jones will be the guy in Foxboro for the next decade-plus, as he’s bringing his 77.4 completion percentage, 96.1 QBR, and 203.1 passer efficiency rating – the highest in college football history — to New England.
Jones is also white, which is vital for playing quarterback in Foxboro.
Because in the entire history of the franchise, a Black man has only been the starting quarterback 17 times.