Mac Jones isn’t gunning for Cam Newton’s job.
Despite his status as the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft — and the first quarterback selected by the Patriots in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993 — Jones said his main focus as he begins his pro football career will be to “support” New England’s incumbent QBs, Newton and Jarrett Stidham.
“It’s (Newton’s) show,” Jones said Thursday night during his introductory video conference. “I’m just there to support him and help out the team in whatever way I can.”
The Patriots struggled with Newton at the helm last season, going 7-9 and missing the playoffs while fielding one of the NFL’s worst passing attacks in Year 1 of the post-Tom Brady era.
But New England re-signed Newton to a team-friendly one-year contract in March, then spent the ensuing weeks revamping their talent-deficient roster, signing tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith and receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne amid an unprecedented spending binge.
If all goes to plan, Jones, who is coming off an undefeated national championship run at Alabama, eventually will supplant Newton. But he currently views himself as a complementary piece, not a QB1 challenger.
“For me, I’m actually joining a really great quarterback room with Cam Newton,” Jones said. “He’s earned the respect of his teammates, going to New England, being a captain. And then you’ve got Jarrett, who I really loved watching at Auburn and kind of used as a role model. So both those guys are role models to me right now, and I’m just going to go behind them and learn how they did it, because they’ve seen a lot of good quarterbacks too, like Tom and everybody.
“So honestly, just kind of play my role and listen to them and take advice and help them however I can, whether it’s taking notes or whatever I need to do to help the team win.”
Jones said he’s heard rave reviews about Newton from the Patriots’ other Alabama products, a group that includes 2019 draft pick Damien Harris and 2020 draftee Anfernee Jennings.
“Cam is awesome,” Jones said. “I’ve only heard great things when talking to people that I know from the Patriots about how great of a guy he is and how much everyone loves him. I mean, he just has fun with it, and I do too, so hopefully we can kind of have fun together.”
Rumored as a potential target for the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 overall, Jones wound up being the fifth quarterback drafted Thursday night, following Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence (No. 1, Jacksonville Jaguars), BYU’s Zach Wilson (No. 2, New York Jets), North Dakota State’s Trey Lance (No. 3, 49ers) and Ohio State’s Justin Fields (No. 11, Chicago Bears).
His skill set — accurate, smart, good decision-maker, winning pedigree — makes him one of the most pro-ready signal-callers in this year’s draft, but when asked whether he feels like he’s competing for the starting job, Jones referenced his lack of NFL experience.
“I’ve never played in the NFL or anything, and I don’t know what it’s like,” said Jones, who added he hoped he’d slide to the Patriots. “So I’m just going to go in there and work really hard like I always have and always will. Cam earned the respect of the team already, and my job is to support him and Jarrett and help them become better players if I can.
“I’ve never played in the NFL, but I’ve seen good football, and I know that I can help them with anything they need, whether it’s taking notes or taking stress off their minds. I’m just going to be the great teammate that I know I can be.”
The Patriots also have 2020 practice squadder Jake Dolegala on their quarterback depth chart.