Anticipation is mounting at the 2021 NFL Draft draw near, now just a matter of weeks away before the event is hosted in Cleveland, Ohio. While the Browns may be the host team, though, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be picking before them, and are more likely to be eying a quarterback.
Not that it’s likely, either way. The Browns have Baker Mayfield, whom they’re about to give a big extension later this offseason, most likely. The Steelers are running on Ben Roethlisberger’s fumes, but they are giving it one final season, so I wouldn’t expect them to suddenly take an all-in approach at quarterback.
If they do convince themselves to go for a quarterback in the first round, and it ends up being Alabama’s Mac Jones, then NFL analyst Bucky Brooks would probably be sorely disappointed in them, as he just wrote a piece in which he argues that Jones is simply not a first-round quarterback—and even offers Mayfield as a comparative example.
“I just don’t understand why Mac Jones is being hailed as a potential top-five pick in the 2021 class”, he wrote, arguing that such players must possess ‘superhero’-like ability. “Comparing Jones’ skills to those of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance, there is a drastic difference between the Alabama standout and those other projected first-rounders”.
Many expect Lawrence, Wilson, and perhaps Fields or Lance to go 1-2-3 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Jets, and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively, who hold the first three picks in the draft. The 49ers came by theirs via trade, of course.
Brooks knocks Jones for benefitting to an immense degree from the talent that he had around him, a recent who’s who of first-round offensive players, like Jerry Jeudy and Jaylen Waddle, as well as running back Najee Harris.
“The 6-foot-3, 217-pounder doesn’t display A-grade arm talent or athleticism between the lines”, he noted. “Jones lacks the speed, quickness and running ability to extend plays or create big gains outside of structure. Moreover, he is confined to the pocket as a statuesque signal-caller built to throw traditional dropback passes behind a fortress”.
Brooks also references quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen who are capable of making spectacular plays, something he hasn’t seen from Jones. “If we hold Jones to that standard when it comes to quarterback play at the NFL level, the Alabama standout falls short. Far short. He is incapable of winning a shootout as a gunslinger forced to play sandlot football”, he declares.
He concludes by saying that, like Baker Mayfield, he will need a great supporting cast in order to succeed in the NFL. I’m sure Mayfield might not be thrilled to hear something like that, but unlike other quarterbacks, he hasn’t shown capable of carrying a franchise on his shoulders yet. Nick Chubb has been doing it for him. Can Jones fare any better? I wouldn’t take a first-rounder out on him to find out, either.