The Ideal Fit for Mac Jones

Jan 1, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws the ball during the first quarter of the 2020 VRBO Citrus Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide have a checkered history with their quarterbacks going to the NFL. After producing three NFL Hall of Fame signal callers in the 50’s and 60’s, the Tide haven’t produced a single pro bowl quarterback since.

The best professional that has been produced from college football’s preeminent power house during the Nick Saban era is current free agent A.J. McCarron. Despite this lack of transitional players, Alabama may have produced two NFL starters, and had a hand on a third who transferred away.

Tua Tagovailoa was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 NFL Draft. After being in the running for the number one overall pick, Tua slipped a bit after missing the end of the 2019 college football season due to injury. In his rookie season in the NFL, Tagovailoa put up decent numbers for a part time starter ending the season with 1814 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns to five interceptions, and a 6-3 starting record.

This year, Mac Jones hopes to emulate or even outdo Tua. Jones, who took over for the injured Tagovailoa in 2019, lit it up in 2020 throwing for an impressive 4500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. He also just led Alabama to a seventh National Championship under Saban.

Despite this success, Jones isn’t even in consideration for the top quarterback in the draft, that honor goes to Trevor Lawerence. After Lawrence, there’s Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance all in front of Jones as well. That means he’s in a bit of a precarious, but not necessarily bad, position.

Being that Jones isn’t a top-tier prospect, it’s unlikely that he’ll be selected before the second half of the first round. This eliminates some pressure to be excellent, or even play, in his first professional season. Although this seems counter-intuitive for a guy who probably just wants to play the game, it will give him time to adjust to the speed of the game and learn how to run an NFL offense.

The ideal spot for Jones is about 300 miles southwest of where he played his college ball in the city of New Orleans. Sean Payton is an offensive genius who got the most out of the freshly retired Drew Brees and even hid his weaknesses enough to squeeze a couple of playoff appearances out of him after it was clear that Brees had had it physically.

Payton’s coaching, along with a great supporting cast, could help Jones succeed very quickly. The Saints have the luxury of giving Jones some time to mature while they experiment with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.