We judge a lot of things based on size: Texas BBQ, television monitors, people’s homes, yadda yadda yadda. NFL quarterbacks are no exception. Everything about them gets judged based on their size. Not even Joe Burrow’s hands were exempt from the harsh eye of NFL media. As OTA’s have kicked off across the league, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is the latest rookie to receive some harsh words from reporters.
So he looks small and his arm doesn’t appear to be “live” (meaning “strong”). I have been a vocal critic of Jones since the start of the most recent college football season, but these criticisms he’s receiving now have me asking, “So what?”
Of everything Mac Jones brings to the table as an NFL prospect, a lack of size is what I’m least concerned about. Jones is listed as 6-foot-3, 217 pounds — pretty much on par with Lamar Jackson’s 6-foot-2, 212 and Deshaun Watson’s 6-foot-2, 220. Of course, Jones is going to look small in comparison to the Pats’ other QB, Cam Newton (’memba him?). Newton is pretty much a Grecian god. As for Jarrett Stidham (their other, other QB), I find it hard to believe that Jones looks that much smaller because they’re the same build, minus one pound! (Stidham is listed at 6-foot-3, 216). Maybe Stidham looks bulkier, but bulking up is something that Jones can easily work on prior to the start of the season.
With the success of guys like Russell Wilson (5-foot-11), Kyler Murray (5-foot-10), and Drew Brees (6-foot), I’m stunned that Jones’s height is even brought into question. The three aforementioned quarterbacks have never had problems finding receivers or seeing over their offensive lines.
Jones isn’t even the smallest first-round quarterback of the 2021 draft class. New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson is listed at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds. Why is he not receiving these remarks? Is it because Wilson is more mobile than Jones? He might be smaller, but he can run around and avoid tacklers better? That’s the only reason I can think of. But Drew Brees could barely run at any point in his career, and up until the end of it, he was a pretty dang good quarterback, no?
As for Jones’ arm, that’s a legitimate concern. However, just keep in mind that OTAs were Jones’ first action in a Patriots uniform, and we’re still three and a half months away from Week 1 of the NFL season. I understand that Jones’ arm strength was a concern in college, but judging Jones off of his first three days at practice is very risky business, especially after Jones threw three beautiful passes in the 7-on-7's.
Keep in mind that Peyton Manning’s biggest con coming out of Tennessee (and throughout his career) was his “weak” arm. However, it didn’t matter. As long as Jones can read a defense, stay in the pocket, and make accurate throws, he’ll be just fine. After all, he’s learning from one of the best coaches in the business — someone who’s succeeded with an immobile, but very accurate quarterback before. I’m not saying Jones is Tom Brady. He’s not, but there’s a reason the Patriots were praised for drafting Jones at 15 — he fits Belichick’s system, even if he is one inch shorter than Brady.