History may judge the 2021 NFL Draft as one of the most productive of its kind for the New England Patriots franchise. In addition to securing the services of their expected quarterback of the future, the Pats have also added some offensive and defensive standouts that will help to shape the direction of the team for the foreseeable future.
Two members of the Patriots 2021 Draft class were honored for their efforts on Tuesday by being named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s (PFWA) All-Rookie team.
Quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore became the pair of Patriots to earn spots on the PFWA’s All-Rookie Team. The duo are certainly no stranger to being teammates. In addition to playing together in New England, Jones and Barmore were also collegiate colleagues at the University of Alabama.
After earning the starting job at the conclusion of training camp, Jones enjoyed a stellar rookie season, inspiring palpable hope amongst the fanbase for the future of the Pats’ quarterback situation. The 23-year-old led all rookies with a 67.6 completion percentage and a 92.5 passer rating, while compiling 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns. The 15th overall selection in the first round of last April’s draft, Jones completed at least 70 percent of his attempts in nine games and twice threw for 300-plus yards through the air. He led New England to a 10-7 regular-season record as a starter, as well as a return trip to the playoffs after a one year absence. Down the stretch, Jones clearly had his struggles. He was less accurate, made more rookie mistakes and had difficulty when defenses were able to adjust to take away his preferred routes and targets. However, he regularly maintained his poise, his focus and his drive to constantly improve. Those qualities will continue to make him the ideal steward of New England’s timing-based passing game, predicated on vertical routes and completions from quick, accurate throws.
While Jones may ultimately be the crown jewel of the Patriots’ 2021 Draft haul, Barmore may end up being the steal of the Draft as a whole. Arriving in New England via the 38th overall selection, the second-rounder logged 46 tackles, two batted passes and 1.5 sacks during his rookie campaign. Barmore finished the regular season ranked first among rookie interior defensive linemen with 48 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He made two starts on the Pats defensive line, while playing 55 percent of New England’s defensive snaps. Barmore’s ability to push the pocket and take a stand against the run earned him many well-deserved accolades in his rookie season. Despite dealing with some knee problems for much of the second half of the season, the Pats’ rookie became one of the team’s premier defenders. He plays with good leverage, and is strong enough to take on double-teams. He locates the ball quickly, chases with good effort and has excellent range for his size. Barmore, also had demonstrated quick hands, which has made him effective in both stuffing the run, and challenging the passer. As a result, he is expected to remain one of the cornerstones of the Patriots front seven for the duration of his stay in Foxboro.
Since 1974, the PFWA has awarded an All-Rookie team each year. The Association also awarded Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons as the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year, as well as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for the 2021 season.