Patriots

Mac Jones secretly wanted to be drafted by the Patriots in 2021 NFL Draft

Jones joins good friend and college teammate Damien Harris in New England.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones holds a team jersey after he was picked by the New England Patriots in the first round of the NFL draft. AP Photo/Tony Dejak

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The only time Mac Jones can remember visiting Boston, he nearly lost his foot.

The former Alabama quarterback told reporters via Zoom on Thursday that he was boarding a cruise out of Boston 10 years ago, and one of his Crocs got stuck on an escalator.

“Kind of crazy,” Jones said, chuckling.

Jones will have plenty of (presumably) less harrowing opportunities to visit Boston soon — on Thursday, the Patriots selected him with the No. 15 pick in the NFL Draft, ending a somewhat surprising draft-night slide. Jones was projected to go in the top three by many mock drafts, and the Patriots were expected to explore moving up to acquire one of the five first-round quarterbacks.

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Instead, Jones — the final quarterback taken in the first round — fell into their lap. He didn’t mind in the least.

“At the end of the day, you want to just get the right fit, and I feel like secretly, I really wanted to go to the Patriots all along,” Jones said. “So I’m actually really happy that it happened.

“But it doesn’t really matter. You get picked, you’ve got to take the opportunity and take advantage of it and learn the new system, learn the new coaches, learn the new culture.”

Jones will have a few familiar faces from his time at Alabama in the Patriots’ locker room, including linebacker Anfernee Jennings and running back Damien Harris. Jones said he and Harris are “pretty much best friends.”

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“I’ve been telling him the whole time I wanted to come to the Patriots,” Jones said. “I’m just happy that it happened.”

Jones adds to an interesting dynamic at quarterback. Newton struggled last year, but some of his struggles may have been due to his battle with COVID-19. Jarrett Stidham is still on the roster, although he doesn’t seem to have earned Belichick’s trust at this stage.

And, of course, Tom Brady’s absence looms over the entire franchise.

“For me, it’s just being myself and being my own player,” Jones said. “Obviously he did great things for New England, and I’m just looking forward to going in there and working.”

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Jones expressed admiration for Newton and Stidham as well, calling them both “role models.”

“We’ve got two Auburn guys and one Alabama guy,” Jones said, laughing. “So I know that. But Cam’s awesome and 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. He just has fun with it, and I do too, so hopefully, we can kind of have fun together and I’ll help him out.

“It’s his show, and I’m just there to support him and then kind of just help out the team in whatever way I can.”

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At one of Jones’ pro days last month, cameras captured a funny moment that went viral: Bill Belichick chatting with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and shaking his head as Jones overthrew a receiver. Whether Belichick was shaking his head within the context of his conversation or reacting to the errant throw was unclear, but the clip was viewed more than a million times on Twitter.

On Thursday, however, Jones said he’s excited to play for Belichick.

“He’s a great coach, and I’m just glad that he was [at the pro day] and I got to show off some of my skills and stuff,” Jones said. “But at the end of the day, he’s the coach and I’m the player and I’m just looking forward to him kind of coaching me hard and me just taking good coaching.”

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Belichick noted that the Patriots spent a lot of time with Jones before the draft.

“He’s a smart kid,” Belichick said. “He’s been in a system that’s similar to ours. We’ve had a lot of good conversations with him. I think he’ll be able to process the offense.”

Belichick said Newton is the Patriots’ quarterback until Stidham and Jones are ready to challenge him.

“Right now, Mac just has a lot of learning ahead of him,” Belichick said. “I know he’s very anxious to get going on it and get started.”

Jones called New England “a great place,” noting the team-first mentality that values good chemistry and winning.

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“New England’s done that, but they don’t look in the past, they just look in the future,” Jones said. “So we’ve got to just focus on trying to win games and then take it day-by-day. Eventually, you’ll win a lot of games.”

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