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Could Mac Jones really be in play for the Eagles at No. 6?

Might be more possible than you think.

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CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T - Ohio State v Alabama Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles angered more than a few of their fans by taking a former Alabama quarterback in last year’s NFL Draft. Are they about to do something similar in 2021?

A recent mock from CBS Sports has the Eagles selecting Mac Jones with the No. 6 overall pick. As you can see in the replies, this scenario was ... not exactly popular!

It’s pretty clear that Jones isn’t highly regarded among fans. But it’s not just them.

Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah has the Crimson Tide signal-caller as his No. 34 overall prospect:

Jones has average size and athleticism for the quarterback position. He’s operated out of the shotgun and pistol, showing incredible accuracy, efficiency and poise. He is a high-effort thrower, with slightly above-average arm strength. He’s at his best on touch throws, where he can anticipate and place the ball on the proper shoulder of his target. He shows toughness to hang in versus pressure, although he rarely faced it with an elite offensive line protecting him. He isn’t much of a threat as a runner and he lacks the twitch to consistently escape and buy extra time. Jones should become a starting NFL quarterback, but his lack of twitch and athleticism will limit the playbook with the way the game is trending.

The Draft Network’s scouting report on Jones indicates he’s more of a “win with” talent as opposed to a “win because of” player. Jones is TDN’s fifth-ranked quarterback prospect:

Containing average arm strength, he’s an underrated deep passer that’s able to layer the ball into adequate spots for perimeter targets. As an anticipatory thrower, he’s well above average with “about to be open” throws of where he releases the ball while estimating where targets are going to be. Balance and savvy within the pocket are top-tier traits, as he’s an excellent mover within the pocket and knows how to create windows of opportunities to release throws with a cleaner view than previously offered. Jones isn’t a passer that will make a living creating off-script plays outside of structure, but he has enough mobility to take advantage of the grass offered to him. Jones is a passer that will need the three P’s surrounding him (playmakers, play-caller, protection) at high-tier levels in order to see his full potential on a consistent basis, as he isn’t a thrower that will be able to overcome those elements being at a lower-tier level.

Ideal Role: Lower tier starting QB.

Scheme Fit: West Coast or Erhardt-Perkins offensive system—quick rhythm-based throws with periodic deep shots down the field.

Despite these concerns, though, there’s been increasing buzz that Jones could go higher than expected. A roundup of the recent hype machine:

So, with all indications that the Eagles will “consider taking a quarterback with the sixth pick,” perhaps Jones might really be in play. Even if he shouldn’t be.

There are things to like about Jones. He’s coming off a 2020 season where he completed a whopping 77.4% of his passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Alabama went undefeated with Jones as their starter en route to blowing out Ohio State in this year’s national championship game.

For what it’s worth, the folks at Pro Football Focus seem to love Jones. They wrote about he “turned this Crimson Tide passing offense into perhaps the best attack college football has ever seen.” Jones ended up with the highest PFF grade they’ve ever handed out to a quarterback prospect, topping 2020 No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. This article shows how Jones edged out Burrow in a number of key categories. Another article from PFF outlines how Jones is a superior prospect to Tagovailoa, who went No. 5 overall to the Miami Dolphins last year.

But there are also things to not feel so good about. In addition to the issues raised in the aforementioned Jones scouting reports, he skews on the older side as he turns 23 in September. For context, Herbert played last season at 22. Justin Fields turns 22 this week. Lance doesn't turn 21 until May. Point being: Jones might offer less upside than his peers.

One must also gauge the degree to which Jones was successful because of his supporting cast. He certainly benefited from playing with last season’s Heisman Trophy winner in DeVonta Smith. Having fellow potential top 10 pick Jaylen Waddle didn’t hurt, either. Neither did throwing the ball to 2020 first-round picks Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III at times in 2019.

Another factor working against Jones is his limited experience; he finished his college career with just 17 starts. By contrast, Trevor Lawrence had 35, Zach Wilson had 29, and Fields had 22. Lance, whose inexperience has prompted concern, also only has 17 starts to his name. Of course, Lance also played at the Division I FCS level while Jones was in the SEC.

The feeling here is that Jones won’t be the best prospect the Eagles can take at No. 6 overall. And, as previously stated, they shouldn’t be so hellbent on coming into this year’s draft with a “take a quarterback in the first round no matter what” mindset. The Eagles should only take a passer if they absolutely love the guy and think he can be elite.

Perhaps the Eagles will find themselves among those comparing Jones to Brady. Feels pretty dangerous to be betting on the exception like that. Regardless, they absolutely should and will be doing their homework on Jones in addition to the other top quarterback prospects.


Should the Eagles draft Mac Jones at No. 6?

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