With the 4th overall pick and an aging quarterback, the Falcons have a critical decision to make. Should they stick with Ryan and attempt to build the best possible team around him for his twilight years — much like the Saints did with Drew Brees — or should they use this opportunity to find their next franchise quarterback.
Many view this year’s QB class as elite — headlined by Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson. However, there’s one name not enough people are talking about, and I believe many will be surprised to see how high he ends up going come April 29th.
Let’s not beat around the bush — Mac Jones put together the best season for a quarterback in Alabama history, and it should be regarded as one of the best years for any player at any position in the history of college football. He was that elite in every aspect, tossing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions. He completed over 77% of his passes and finished the season with a 203.1 quarterback rating — both of which were higher than Joe Burrow‘s 2019 marks, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and was drafted #1 overall.
Numbers aren’t everything; however, Jones’ tape is equally as impressive. He is undoubtedly the most accurate passer in this class, and it isn’t particularly close. As you’ll see below, rarely did any of the receivers have to break stride down the field, and it didn’t matter how tight the window was, Jones put the ball on the money.
— Uno de los Niners (@Sanchoatleta) February 2, 2021
Mac Jones throws as pretty a deep ball as any quarterback in college football.
He doesn’t have the upside of a Wilson or Lance, but he’s a damn good QB. He’s been insane against LSU so far tonight and could be a first-round pick. pic.twitter.com/4deZFZ9Cxl
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) December 6, 2020
As an LSU alumn, I feel confident in saying that Jones and Burrow have two of the best deep balls I’ve seen in quite some time. Neither of them has the highlight arm like Trevor Lawrence, but they throw a much more catchable ball, and their accuracy is unmatched. Jones’ success didn’t end with the National Championship, either. He continued to open eyes during the Senior Bowl.
Mac Jones was dropping dimes at the Senior Bowl yesterday.
He will be drafted by _______?pic.twitter.com/4MiEP3LLbz
— BroBible (@BroBible) February 1, 2021
NFL insider: Mac Jones won't go lower than No. 8 pick in the draft
"When we talk about … players that really helped themselves at the Senior Bowl, I think Mac Jones is gonna be a big part of that narrative moving forward."https://t.co/ECuZkywais pic.twitter.com/pciwORM0wS
— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) February 1, 2021
So sure, you might think Jones is a second or third-rounder, but all that really shows is how little you’ve paid attention this season. He put together the highest-graded season by a quarterback in the PFF era (95.8), and that isn’t just because he had fantastic players around him.
Jones avoids turnovers and has a ridiculously high football IQ. He knows how defenses are trying to attack him, and though he’s not the most athletic quarterback, his pocket awareness is upper echelon. Jones will never be known as a scrambler, but he is fast enough to make plays with his feet, which he showed several times against Ohio State.
Finally, his intangibles will be something NFL teams fall in love with during the draft process. Jones entered Alabama as an afterthought behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. However, he never shied away from the challenge and instead put his head down, focused on getting better each day. By the end of their college careers, he ended up being the best of the bunch, leading the Crimson Tide to another National Championship.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m extremely high on Mac Jones. I think he could end up being the best quarterback in this draft class. However, his physical attributes aren’t going to wow anyone, and there is something to be said about the talent he played with last season at Alabama. There weren’t many times when he was asked to perform under duress or with the game on the line. He was often playing pitch and catch with his receivers who were wide open, with all the time in the world to throw. It’s fair to question whether he can perform as perfectly when a 300-pound defensive lineman is chasing him around, which will often happen during his NFL career. However, I think there are enough positives in his game that he could be worth taking a risk on… even as high as the fourth overall selection.
It was recently reported that the Falcons have not had ANY trade talks involving Matt Ryan or Julio Jones. Both will be back next year, but that shouldn’t deter Atlanta from taking a quarterback with their fourth overall pick. When it comes to drafting quarterbacks, my philosophy has always been that if you fall in love with one and have the opportunity to take him, you don’t mess around. You don’t even trade back and risk him falling to another team; you take him right there. If Terry Fontenot and company start to get the feeling that Mac Jones could be the future in Atlanta, they shouldn’t hesitate to draft him fourth overall.