Patriots

Chris Simms ranks Patriots’ Cam Newton, Mac Jones among top-40 QBs for 2021

Simms says Newton is still "one of the 20 best quarterbacks in football" while adding Patriots are "quietly gushing" about Jones.

Cam Newton Mac Jones Patriots
Cam Newton (left) and Brian Hoyer during Patriots practice. Barry Chin/Globe Staff
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Neither Cam Newton nor Mac Jones have thrown a particularly meaningful pass yet for the New England Patriots during offseason practices.

The team’s quarterback situation likely won’t be decided until the end of training camp, assuming both are healthy enough to compete the entire time.

But that hasn’t stopped people around New England and around the league from weighing in on which man will start against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough.

In his “Top 40 Quarterback Countdown,” former NFL quarterback and NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms seems to cast his preseason vote for Newton — for now.

Both Newton and Jones crack Simms’s top-40 list, with Newton checking in at No. 20 and Jones sitting 10 spots behind at No. 30.

Notably, Newton, who had a lackluster year passing the ball in his first season with the Patriots, drops 10 spots from where he ranked on Simms’s list last year.

But he still sits one spot ahead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback and former Patriot Jimmy Garappolo, who was linked to New England in offseason trade rumors.

“Cam Newton is still one of the 20 best quarterbacks in football for my money,” Simms wrote. “It’s not about the quarterback stats all the time, it’s the effect you have on the football game. He’s a little bit of a force of nature that way and I think that sometimes gets swept under the rug.”

Simms also says Newton has “one of the greatest presence of all quarterbacks on the NFL field,” something his coaches and teammates frequently alude to about him.

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As far as those anemic passing numbers from a year ago? Simms says “you have to get over” the raw numbers at times to see Newton’s overall value.

“He’s one of the best running quarterbacks in football still, and his skillset running the football is one of the things that made that not-very-talented offense somewhat of a threat in certain weeks and it certainly made them one of the best running offenses in football,” he explained.

While the point about his running stands, the Patriots have to be hoping he’ll at least crack 100 passing yards in every game he starts this season.

If he struggles again, it might be Jones’s turn to steer the ship sooner rather than later. And while he didn’t impress in his last turn at OTAs, he’s gained plenty of respect from his coaches already as he dives into the playbook.

“Yeah, he’s a rookie, but he’s an experienced rookie,” Simms said of Jones. “And I know there’s only 17 games in college, but it’s all those years in Alabama and playing the tough SEC schedule and everything about that. And all the things you hear right now, listen, it’s been nothing but positives. You don’t even hear things about first-round picks in New England. They’re quietly gushing about him. That just tells you it all. He is the most NFL-ready quarterback to come out in the draft this year, hands down.”

Jones was the fifth quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft when he came off the board at No. 15 overall to the Patriots.

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But Simms ranked him third among all quarterbacks in this year’s rookie class just behind Zach Wilson (No. 27) and Trevor Lawrence (No. 28) — the first two picks in the 2021 draft. Trey Lance and Justin Fields rank No. 38 and 39, respectively.

If Newton actually plays like a top-20 quarterback in the NFL or better, he might hold off Jones longer than people expect. But highly drafted rookies rarely wait long to play these days, suggesting Jones will get his chance to re-write this list by the time 2021 is over.

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