Scouting Report: Is Mac Jones the Answer for the Patriots?

Could Mac Jones provide the relief the Patriots are seeking at quarterback?
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Film study for this scouting report was conducted by Scouts from Sparta President Arnav Sharma, along with Senior Vice President Kaleb McChesney and head scouts Braden Roome, Ken Myles, and Ryan Moore.

Measurables:

Height: 6-foot-3 (1.91m)

Weight: 214lbs (97kg)

Age: 22

Strengths:

- Incredible anticipation

- Lightning quick processing, especially in the red zone

- Consistent ball placement on short and intermediate passes

- Good footwork and rhythm from drop-back through release

- Generally a good decision-maker (but usually doesn't have to make full progression plays too often)

- Has the ability to throw receivers open

- Quick processing in the red zone

- Flashes the ability to touch pass on intermediate throws

- Excellent pocket mobility

Weaknesses:

- Occasionally tries to "fade away" from pressure while throwing, in some cases against phantom pressure

- Limited ceiling

- Not very mobile or athletic

- Will occasionally throw flat footed or with a lazy lower base

- Slightly above average arm at best

- Inconsistent deep ball placement

- Had one of the best supporting casts in football, so many of his throws were wide open

Summary and Archetype:

Mac Jones is the prototypical cerebral pocket-passing quarterback. His arm and mobility are average but he makes up for his deficiencies with his quick processing ability, great decision-making, and his elite anticipation. 

In one incredible red zone throw against Georgia, Jones is able to throw a slot wheel route to Devonta Smith before Smith even cuts upfield -- the throw was breathtaking to watch during the film session and the epitome of an NFL-level throw. In a different red zone throw, Jones shows his ability to instantly read the leverage of his key (a linebacker off play action in this case), and he delivers a perfectly timed strike to his tight end in the middle of the end zone. 

In 2020, Jones put together a 4,036 yard season in which he threw for 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Jones put together one of the best pure passing seasons in college football history, finishing with a QB Rating (QBR) of 95.8, higher than any quarterback in any season -- this number eclipsed Kyler Murray's rating of 95.4 in 2018, Joe Burrow's 94.9 in 2019, and Russell Wilson's 94.1 in 2011. 

While Mac Jones put up great numbers, it's worth mentioning that he also had perhaps the best supporting cast in college football, including Jaylen Waddle and Heisman winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith. This gave him far more leniency on his ball placement, especially on deep passes. There were numerous deep balls that Jones underthrew but still went for long completions, simply because the receivers were able to make superhuman jump ball plays.

That's not to say that Jones cannot throw a deep ball at all -- he showed off fairly decent touch throwing vertically down the sideline from the opposing hash. While the deep ball may not be his forte, Jones is certainly serviceable.

Jones' biggest hurdle may very well be his lack of physical tools. He does not demonstrate much mobility or athleticism, and his arm is above average at best, leading to more difficulty making throws off platform. While Jones' lack of athleticism does not pose velocity issues, this is mainly because of how stable Jones' base is when he drives his throws; this means that he requires a relatively clean pocket to keep absolute precision.

Fit with the Patriots

Very simply put, Mac Jones is the equivalent of the vanilla ice cream that's sold at the Dairy Bar at UConn. 

UConn makes fresh ice cream thanks to the cows on campus, and their vanilla ice cream is incredible on its own. But the inevitable truth is that the ice cream needs toppings to truly venture into elite status. Vanilla ice cream can turn into anything from cookie dough to Oreo to husky tracks, and all of those are subjectively better than plain vanilla -- but the plain vanilla is still pretty good. 

On his own, Mac Jones may raise the floor of a team, but he won't do much more. He won't single-handedly turn a struggling team into a contender, but he can certainly help a borderline contender find their way to the next level. 

In order for Jones to find success in the league, he will need to go to a team that has an established set of receivers and offensive line. 

While New England may not have the established receiving core Jones requires, they did have the fourth-best offensive line in 2020, according to PFF. Truthfully, the offense is only a couple skill players away from becoming effective, and an offseason of aggressive pursuit could see that change happen sooner than later. 

Strictly as a scheme fit, Jones is a great quarterback for New England, especially given Josh McDaniels' current scheme, which was designed with Tom Brady in mind. Jones will thrive in a system that allows him to use his football IQ to facilitate the offense. As an otherwise one-dimensional quarterback prospect, a strong scheme fit is imperative to Jones' success in the league -- and that is Jones' greatest limitation as a prospect.

At his very best, Mac Jones may play a few years at a top 15 level, possibly even squeaking into the top 10 at some point. However, he likely does not have the tools to become a dominant quarterback in the modern NFL. He is a safe prospect who fans should not expect to become the centerpiece star of an offensive juggernaut, barring the rapid development of a Brady-like football IQ.