BOSTON (CBS) — Hours after drafting Mac Jones in the first round of the draft, Bill Belichick confidently declared that Cam Newton remains the Patriots’ starting quarterback.

He might mean it, too.

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While a lot can happen between now and September, the reality is that Jones has a lot of learning to do. Because of that, Mike Lombardi — who worked on Bill Belichick’s staff from 2014-16 — believes that Jones will spend the 2021 season as a backup to Cam Newton.

“I think it’s a year [until he becomes the starter],” Lombardi said on his podcast. “I think, look, they’re going to coach the [bleep] out of him. They’re going to get him in there, he’s gotta be smart as hell. Here’s what you have to do to play quarterback for the Patriots. You have to have great intelligence. Great intelligence. You have to have really great anticipation with the football. And you gotta be deadly accurate. Those are the things, those are the three things that Mac Jones does.”

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Lombardi added: “I think Mac Jones will take a redshirt year. He’s going to have to prove it. One thing Belichick is not going to do, he’s not going to give anybody a job, whether he picks him 15th or picks him 1,500th. They’re going to have to earn it. And Mac Jones is going to have to go in there and earn it. And I think it’ll be a great quarterback room for them. I think they have great competition in the room. And we’ll see what he can do. And they’ll get a chance to really develop him and allow him to work on his craft and really get him ready to play.”

Lombardi insisted that the passing offense will be the same for Jones and Newton, with Newton obviously operating a bit of a different rushing game that highlights his skills as a runner.

And in the meanwhile, the Patriots will be getting to work on turning Jones’ body into that of a professional athlete.

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“Give him directions to the weight room. Because I promise you, that body will change,” Lombardi said. “I promise you by April the 30th next year, Mac Jones will look like a different human being. That body will change. Because they’re going to change that body.”

CBSBoston.com Staff