Given a perfect opportunity to trade up for a quarterback, the New England Patriots surprised a majority of fans when they stayed put at No. 15 overall in the 2021 draft to select Alabama product Mac Jones as their QB of the future.
The knock on Jones coming out of Alabama was that his lackluster athleticism would make it difficult for him to adapt to the ever-evolving NFL, which has seen dual-threat quarterbacks become a popular commodity in recent years.
In addition, playing for the Crimson Tide, which is a factory in terms of producing high-end NFL talent, was held against Jones.
After all, he was throwing to a loaded receiving corps and played behind one of the country’s best offensive lines. How would that translate to the NFL, where opposing defenses would immediately get better?
We hate to bring up a corny quote, but all Patriots fans are familiar with the “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” mantra, right? Well, if there’s anything to take away from Jones’ work ethic since being drafted, it’s that his efforts have mirrored those of Tom Brady.
If that doesn’t bode well for the rookie’s future, then what does?
Mac Jones’ dedication with Patriots is receiving praise from Bill Belichick.
Like he does with most of his rookies, head coach Bill Belichick has largely refrained from commending Jones over the last few months. However, that narrative flipped on its head last week when the six-time champion addressed the media.
“Mac dove into the playbook and continues to do that, like everybody out there,” Belichick told reporters. “We all have a lot of things we’ve got to work on. That includes everybody. So that’s what he’s doing. That’s what everybody’s doing.”
“He’s working hard; he puts in a lot of time. Certainly giving his very best effort to do everything we’ve asked him to do and do it the way we’ve asked him to do it, which is a great place to start. He’s earned a lot of respect for that.”
Though Brady is no longer with the Patriots, it’s clear Jones either reached out to him this offseason or did extensive research on how the three-time MVP ascended up the quarterback depth chart at the start of his career. After all, if you remember, Brady appeared in just one game as a rookie and didn’t become the full-time starter until his second year.
It goes without saying, but Brady’s dedication helped him earn that job. Between being the first player in the practice facility during OTAs and training camp and being the last one to leave, to putting in extra work in the weight room and studying the playbook from cover to cover, Brady went to great lengths to ensure he was ready in the event his number was called.
It’s certainly early, but the fact Jones is putting his head down and embracing a similar grind suggests it might not take as long as fans initially perceived for him to earn Belichick’s trust.
Jones obviously has a ways to go in that department, but don’t be surprised if Belichick remembers the 22-year-old’s commitment when the time comes to make a decision on the Patriots’ starting quarterback job in the latter stages of next season.