The New England Patriots landed their quarterback of the future Thursday night. And they didn?t even need to trade up to do so.
The Patriots selected Alabama?s Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jones was phenomenally productive for the Crimson Tide last season, leading the nation in completion percentage (77.4 percent) and yards per attempt (11.2) as he led a loaded Bama squad to a national title. He finished with 4,500 passing yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 13 games, posting a 14-to-1 touchdown-to-INT rate in the Tide?s three postseason games.
Pre-draft concerns about Jones focused on his relative lack of athleticism compared to this year?s other elite QB prospects and the fact he played in an ideal situation at Alabama. The 23-year-old fits what the Patriots typically look for in their quarterbacks, however, and comes from a Nick Saban-led program that?s produced New England selections in each of the last three drafts and five of the last seven.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels both were present at Jones’ Alabama pro day last month. Jones capped that workout with a play from Navy’s playbook, which he said he hoped Belichick would appreciate.
Jones joins a Patriots quarterback room that features Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala. The Patriots went 7-9 with Newton as their primary starter last season but revamped their roster in free agency, including adding pass-catchers Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
Jones — the first Patriots quarterback drafted in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993 — came off the board four spots after Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, whom the Chicago Bears traded up to select at No. 11 overall. Chicago sent the 20th pick, a 2022 first-rounder, a 2021 fifth and a 2022 fourth to the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles to move up nine spots.
Clemson?s Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars), BYU?s Zach Wilson (New York Jets) and Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) were selected with the first three picks, respectively.
The Patriots currently own picks No. 46 and 96 overall on Day 2 of the draft, plus seven more selections (three fourth-rounders, one fifth, two sixths and one seventh) on Day 3. Their remaining roster needs include offensive tackle, wide receiver, linebacker and safety.