Mark Schofield and Matt Waldman examine several plays from Mac Jones’ portfolio of work and begin to wonder if the more apt comparison for Jones isn’t Peyton Manning.
Another polarizing player at the top of his class is Mac Jones. Mark Schofield has Jones as his fifth-ranked quarterback and I have him third on my board. Both of us have him graded as a player capable of starting in the NFL, but there was a point that I had Jones as my No.1 quarterback after two of his first three rounds of film study.
After reviewing close 20 minutes of plays that Mark and I compiled for this show—15 minutes of it 3rd-and-long and 4th-and-long situations—I left this episode with two prevailing thoughts:
- Is Jones really a high-functioning baker along the continuum of Tom Brady or more of a chef like Peyton Manning?
- Is Jones actually underrated despite the consensus believing he’s being overrated as potentially the third quarterback taken in this rich class of passers?
Here’s what we discussed during this hour-long show that should help viewers getter a better feel for this rookie prospect who could go as high as third overall in the 2021 NFL Draft:
- Jones consistently delivers passes with excellent placement against tight coverage despite the narrative that he rarely has to target tight coverage.
- Jones’ pocket presence might be the best of the quarterbacks in this class.
- He understands how to preempt pressure with his movement.
- He maneuvers with the pocket with timeliness and efficiency.
- He will take big hits to deliver an accurate throw.
- Jones is more creative and quicker to adapt to unexpected events than he might be characterized.
- Jones moves a lot like Manning has an aggressive demeanor as a field general.
- He displays the hips and footwork to make accurate throws of third and fourth reads at the opposite side of the field.
- Jones’ anticipation and placement make him the most dangerous red-zone thrower of this class.
- His play-action and drop game make him an underrated player with misdirection concepts that mesh well with Kyle Shanahan’s schemes even if he’s not the most mobile passer.
- He can work outside the pocket and keep his eyes downfield.
Most evaluators underrated quarterbacks like Jones because they lack the elite arm talent and physical upside that’s easier to project. Jones has more than enough arm strength for the league but it’s far more difficult to project whether his conceptual acumen is at its ceiling because he’s already showing a lot in this area.
I don’t think Jones has reached his ceiling. In fact, I wonder if he isn’t the best quarterback in this class. At the very least, I think he’s closer than most think.
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