Patriots

Mac Jones goes surprisingly low in expert’s redraft of 2021 QBs

While he's struggled this season, Jones had the best rookie season among the group.

Mac Jones has struggled in Year 2. AP Photo/Noah Murray

Year 2 for Mac Jones hasn’t gone the way many had hoped.

The Patriots quarterback has thrown more than twice as many interceptions (seven) as touchdown passes (three), to go along with 993 passing yards, in addition to missing three games due to an ankle injury. When Jones first returned from that ankle injury, he got booed off the field by his own fans, who were chanting for his backup to replace him.

Those Patriots fans that booed Jones appear to not be the only ones to sour on him in Year 2. After Jones was widely regarded as the best quarterback in his draft class as a rookie in 2021, NFL Network analyst David Carr not only doesn’t view him in that light, but he also thinks Jones’s play is lower than his draft status.

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In a redraft of the 2021 quarterback class, Carr has Jones going seventh in the group and said he should have been selected between rounds two and four. Carr believes that while Jones had a strong rookie season, his play so far in 2022 shows his ceiling as a player.

“Jones is a solid quarterback with poise in the pocket who throws with good anticipation, but he’s the product of what’s around him,” Carr wrote. “Look at his rookie season, when Jones was very average but helped take the Patriots to playoffs. With Jones playing through an ankle injury, the Patriots’ passing attack hasn’t been quite as good when he’s been under center. Jones, who missed three games with a high ankle sprain and appeared to be at risk at one point of falling into a QB controversy with third-stringer Bailey Zappe, has yet to throw more pass TDs than INTs in any of his five appearances this season.

“That pretty much sums up how the season’s gone for New England’s 23rd-ranked passing offense. Jones doesn’t boast the physical tools that others in this class have to win games on his own or regularly perform outside the Xs and Os. We know what Jones was at Alabama and he’ll be that quarterback for the next 10-15 years. It’s not a bad thing, but his relatively low ceiling compared to others in the 2021 class is why he’s in this spot.”

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Jones’s placement in Carr’s redraft is a notable drop from where he was drafted in 2021. The Patriots selected him with the 15th overall pick and Jones was the fifth quarterback taken in the highly regarded class.

Jones’s placement in the redraft is still surprising, though, even with his play so far this season as the quarterbacks from the 2021 class have largely struggled.

Justin Fields, whom the Bears selected with the 11th overall, is the first quarterback Carr would have going off the board in a redraft. He’s thrown for 3,069 yards with 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, adding 844 yards and five touchdowns on the ground as he’s gone 5-13 as a starter in his career. As Carr pointed out, Fields has played better in recent weeks, throwing five touchdowns to just two interceptions with a 97.1 passer rating over the Bears’ last five games, which includes a win over the Patriots in which he rushed for 82 yards.

The other quarterback Carr gave top 10 status to in a redraft is the Texans’ Davis Mills, who went in the second round in the 2021 draft. Like Jones, Mills had a solid rookie season (2,664 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and an 88.8 passer rating), but has also struggled in Year 2, throwing for 1,656 yards, 10 touchdowns, and eight interceptions with an 81.2 passer rating so far this season.

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Carr thinks that Mills is being held back by a poor team around him as the Texans are 3-15-1 in the games he’s started so far in his career.

“The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Mills is a good athlete with a big arm,” Carr wrote. “He’s an accurate passer (65.4 career completion percentage) who has a lot of the same qualities of Andrew Luck, another former Stanford Cardinal. Mills unfortunately is on a talent-poor team and will struggle early in his career without above-average weapons around him at the pro level.”

The other three quarterbacks taken in the first round of that draft (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance) also went ahead of Jones in Carr’s redraft. Carr admitted that there’s been warts in Lawrence and Wilson’s play so far and that he hasn’t seen enough of Lance to have a true opinion on him.

The quarterback he’s got going sixth among the group and right before Jones is Sam Ehlinger, who’ll make his second career start against the Patriots on Sunday. Carr called the sixth-round pick’s debut last week “promising” as Ehlinger 73.9 percent of his passes for 201 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in a 17-16 loss to the Commanders.

Still, Ehlinger and many of the other quarterbacks in the 2021 draft class didn’t have the season Jones had as a rookie, in which he threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions with a 92.5 passer rating to help the Patriots go 10-7 and help the Patriots make it back to the playoffs.

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