BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots didn’t have to trade up to draft their quarterback of the future on Thursday night. Mac Jones ended up falling to New England at No. 15 in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Jones comes to New England after a solid three-year career at Alabama, leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championships in 2020. Jones was also a redshirt freshman when the Crimson Tide won in 2017.READ MORE: 'The Razorbacks Are Definitely For Real': CBS' Kevin Carter Previews #7 Texas A&M Vs. #16 Arkansas, Other Week 4 Games
Last season, Jones completed an absurd 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions for Alabama. He threw for more than 400 yards in five games, including a season-best 464 yards in his five-touchdown performance against Ohio State in the National Championship Game. Over Alabama’s two postseason wins, Jones completed 51 of his 75 passes for 761 yards and nine touchdowns, as the Crimson Tide put up 81 points against the Buckeyes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Ahead of the 2020 season, Jones was 102-for-154 (66.2 percent) for 1,726 yards with 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions combined in 2018 and 2019. He attempted just 13 passes in 2018, appearing mostly as a holder on Alabama’s special teams unit. Jones became Alabama’s starter midway through the 2019 season when Tua Tagovailoa went down with a hip injury, and finished the year with 1,503 passing yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games. He threw four touchdowns in a loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl, but threw three touchdowns and no interceptions to lead Alabama to a 35-16 win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.READ MORE: Revolution Have Clinched A Playoff Spot, But Their Work Is Far From Done
In addition to his two championships during his collegiate career, Jones also won the 2020 Davey O’Brien Award and Manning Award, given to the game’s top quarterback. He was also a consensus All-America and first-team All SEC in 2020.
The Patriots were in the 15th spot based on their 7-9 record last season. This selection marks their highest pick since taking Jerod Mayo 10th overall in 2008, when they owned the 49ers’ first-round pick.
Bill Belichick’s only other draft picks in the top half of the first round are Richard Seymour (sixth overall in 2001) and Ty Warren (13th overall in 2003). Nate Solder — at No. 17 in 2011 — was just outside that top half when the Patriots drafted him using Oakland’s first-round pick.MORE NEWS: Mac Jones Says Big Plays Will Come For Patriots Offense: 'You Can't Chase Plays That Aren't There'
It was unknown if the Patriots would execute a trade to move up to select a quarterback in the first round, but as they came off the board — Trey Lance at No. 3, and Justin Fields at No. 11, after Chicago moved up from No. 20 to draft him — the Patriots were spectators. They instead waited patiently, ultimately making their pick at their slotted position.