The Denver Broncos seem to be ready to go all-in on landing disgruntled Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson via trade, if he's made available. FanDuel oddsmakers recently pegged the Broncos as the odds-on favorites (+150) in the Watson sweepstakes.
However, Broncos GM George Paton could also look to add a free-agent quarterback to the room prior to the NFL draft. Last week it was reported that the Broncos inquired about pending free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick. Although the rumor didn’t exactly spark momentum for ‘Fitzmagic’ to come to Denver, the QB hunt is definitely underway.
While veteran retreads like Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, and Cam Newton are being debated in Broncos Country, perhaps Denver will draft its next starting QB in the first round. 9NEWS insider Mike Klis was a guest on Stokley and Zach on 104.3 The FAN and was asked about how Paton will add competition to the QB room outside of the lukewarm options in free agency.
“Maybe it’s Mac Jones,” Klis told hosts Brandon Stokley and Zach Bye.
Keep in mind that Denver met with the Alabama quarterback at the Senior Bowl in January. In fact, ESPN’s Todd McShay recently predicted Jones being selected in the top-15 to Chicago (via San Francisco).
McShay’s counterpart and Mel Kiper Jr. predicted last week that Denver will trade away its No. 9 overall pick to New England, who would then draft North Dakota State's Trey Lance.
So, what’s the point of all these confusing and contradicting projections?
There will be a run on QBs in the first round of this year’s draft. Outside of Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields, Lance, and Jones, the 2021 draft class isn’t deep. It is top-heavy, though.
I was on location in Mobile to evaluate Jones. His performance during the weeks' worth of practices made him a bonafide first-rounder to many in the scouting community. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound signal-caller finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2020 and his draft stock is now skyrocketing.
Last season, Jones played in 13 games and threw for a whopping 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, four interceptions, and boasted an impressive 77.4 completion percentage. The 22-year-old native of Jacksonville, FL, has ideal vision, touch and accuracy.
Jones is a very instinctive passer who is consistently moving his eyes through his progressions. His film also reveals an intelligent and savvy decision-maker who can lead receivers and with advanced anticipation. The first thing coaches and scouts will tell you about Jones is that he’s mature and has a professional work ethic.
He exudes confidence both on and off the field, and his natural skill-set would most likely shine within a West Coast offense. Jones has solid arm mechanics with a very quick internal processor that should give him a great chance at starting in the NFL.
Pro Football Network's Steve Verderosa, an ex-NFL scout, described Jones as an ideal pocket prototype QB in the NFL.
“I’ve never seen a guy orchestrate an offense like this guy has,” Verderosa said. “He’s just too consistent against the very best college competition. Every week, he’s the same. The only thing that I wouldn’t give him high marks for would be athleticism, strength, and explosion. His competitiveness, his mental alertness is off the charts. This guy processes information so fast for me watching the tape, it’s unreal. You never see happy feet with this guy.”
While Jones has the size and frame of an NFL QB, he’s very immobile. His smooth pocket awareness and ability to climb don’t translate to first-down scrambles or buying time with his legs.
By no means is Jones a statue, but don’t look for shades of Michael Vick out there either. Some analysts criticize Jones' arm as being strong but not elite, and I’d insist that in the first round of the draft, all QBs have ‘big’ arms. Jones’ relatively limited sample size in college also raises the question of whether he is a one-year wonder with just 31 career games under his belt for the powerhouse that is Alabama.
Everyone called me crazy a month ago for saying Jones will be the fifth QB taken in the first round. I understand those that disagree, especially when comparing QBs like the aforementioned Lawrence, or Wilson to Jones.
Jones would be way too rich a pick at No. 9 overall for Denver. But if there was a scenario where the Broncos could trade back to acquire more draft capital and Jones was there in the late first round, I’d have serious interest.
Although the Broncos don’t have significant interest in Jones, per say, crazier things have happened. With teams like the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, and San Francisco 49ers all being linked to drafting Jones, other teams like Denver could soon find themselves in the mix.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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