Alabama in the Pros

Drew Brees said Patriots’ QB Mac Jones was the ‘steal of the NFL Draft’

Mac Jones (No. 10) setting up to throw for Patriots in Thursday's NFL Preseason Game versus Washington
Paul Rutherford - USA Today Sports

A new era has started in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Tom Brady was the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots for 20 years.

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He was a model of consistency, winning six Super Bowls for the franchise. Last season, Brady was the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl ring. People felt Brady was the reason behind the Patriots’ success over Bill Belichick, but he is not feeling it. Belichick selected a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time in his tenure as a head coach and general manager. He chose Mac Jones at No. 15 overall after he had a great season at Alabama.

Jones set a single-season school record for passing yards (4,500) in 2020 and totaled 41 touchdowns. He won the Davey O’Brien, Manning, and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards while being a Heisman finalist. He guided Alabama to an undefeated College Football Playoff National Championship season.

The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder did well in rookie minicamp, mandatory minicamp, training camp, and preseason games. Belichick and the Patriots released Cam Newton and named Jones the starting quarterback for the season.

Drew Brees, a former second-round pick of the 2001 draft, is a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

He played 20 seasons between the San Diego Chargers (2001-05) and New Orleans Saints (2006-20). Brees accomplished numerous passing records, was a 13x Pro Bowl selection, two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2008, 2011), and was a Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP in 2009 with the Saints.

During an NBC Sports conference call, the 42-year-old was all in on the Patriots taking Jones in the draft.

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He believes the rookie signal-caller has the skill set to be an immediate impact player.

“So as I was watching the draft, the minute the Patriots took Mac Jones at No. 15, I said, that’s the steal of the draft,” Brees said on the call via New England Sports Network. “His level of execution last year at Alabama, and I know we can sit here and argue he’s got the best players on the field on his side, on both sides of the ball. But in watching the National Championship Game, that’s where it became very evident to me. This guy’s level of execution, his understanding of offensive football, his timing, his rhythm, his ability not only to make the routine throws but to make throws that you’re going to need to make at the next level to win games and take care of the football the way he did, I felt like he was the most NFL-ready.”

Jones entered a draft class with Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Zach Wilson (BYU), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), and Justin Fields (Ohio State). The other four players received more attention from national media than him, but Brees think Jones is the better quarterback.

“I think Mac Jones is going to have the most success of any rookie quarterback, not just this year but probably for the next few years,” Brees said. 

Jones will begin his career on Sunday as the Patriots face the Miami Dolphins.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “watch” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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