NFL Draft

Mock Draft Has Steelers Taking QB Mac Jones In 1st Round

In Pete Prisco’s latest mock draft, Alabama’s Mac Jones is the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ future. That’s who he has taking at #24 in his latest mock for CBS Sports. Here’s what he writes about the selection.

“Yes, Ben Roethlisberger is back for another season, but they need to find his long-term replacement. Jones has the ability to sit for a year and then become the starter.”

Based on his age and more importantly, the way his contract has been structured, 2021 is all but guaranteed to be Roethlisberger’s final year with the Steelers. Which means the time to find his replacement starts now with this strong quarterback class.

Jones is one of two realistic first round options for the Steelers, the other being North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. But in this mock draft, Lance went off the board at #12, leaving Jones as the last first-round caliber passer on the board. There’s a clear separation from him to the next tier of quarterbacks: Florida’s Kyle Trask, Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman, and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond.

In our scouting report on Jones, we noted his great ball placement and pocket presence while knocking his mobility and tendency to miss high on some of his throws. Here’s how we concluded his game in our report, ultimately comparing him to Andy Dalton.

“Overall, I came away more impressed with Jones than I expected to be. He and Trask are somewhat cut from a similar cloth. But Jones is an even better anticipatory thrower with greater pocket movement, mobility, and arm strength. Jones was also basically just a one-year starter so he can get better as he gets more experience.”

College coaches like June Jones and Charlie Weis also heaped praise on his game. Jones called him the best deep ball thrower he’s ever graded. 

It’s unclear if the Steelers like Jones and how serous they might be about going after a quarterback in this draft. It’s possible they punt on the position for another year and choose to build around Roethlisberger, knowing it’s probably their final shot to win with him.

Four other QBs went in the first round of Prisco’s mock. Trevor Lawrence #1 to Jacksonville, Zach Wilson #2 to the Carolina (in a mocked, draft-day trade), Justin Fields #8 to the Jets (part of that Panthers’ trade), and Lance to San Francisco at #12.

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