The Alabama Crimson Tide finished off an 11-0 season with a 52-24 revenge victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 11 of this year, led by quarterback Mac Jones, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, fellow projected first round pick Jaylen Waddle and others.
Jones capped off one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in NCAA history with a near-flawless 464-yard, five-touchdown performance against the Buckeyes, completing 36-of-45 passes including 12 to Smith for a game high 215 yards and three touchdowns.
To the casual observer, Jones’ impossibly efficient title game performance may have looked like an anomaly, especially considering the mature, businesslike approach the Jacksonville, Florida-raised former four-star prospect brings to the game.
But Jones was simply that good throughout the season, rising from a scout-team QB to a record holding signal caller before his time in Tuscaloosa was over.
Now, Jones is a projected first-round pick — but also a forgotten man in many circles, as other QBs including Zach Wilson, Trey Lance and Trevor Lawrence have garnered most of the attention.
CBS Analyst Explains Why Mac Jones Has Been Overlooked
Recently Ryan Wilson, a CBS sports analyst and mock draft purveyor, explained why Jones has been so overlooked despite his all-time great stats playing in the always-rugged and star-studded SEC Conference.
“I’ve been higher on Mac Jones than anybody & the pushback is always lack of athleticism, etc.,” Wilson said.
“He ran in the 4.7s, had a 32-inch vert, did everything Tua did at Bama…he just looks like a 40-year-old dad. If he had Tua’s physique everybody’s calling him a top-5 pick all day long.”
Wilson was of course referencing former number five overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, who was taken by the Miami Dolphins.
Responses to Wilson’s tweet varied wildly. Wilson currently has Jones rapidly moving up in his latest mock draft; slotted in at #3 overall to the San Francisco 49ers.
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) March 29, 2021
Opinions on Jones going that high were strong to say the least.
There is no way Mac Jones is going 3 overall. Just. Stop.
— daniel (@danielSEM2004) March 29, 2021
Any GM that even considers taking Mac Jones 3rd overall should never get another job in sports
— Sports Talk Spicer (@SportsSpicer) March 30, 2021
But a few others defended Wilson’s latest mock draft, which saw Jones rise from #8 to the top three.
I love all the love for Mac Jones! Still, this trade is for Fields. 😉
— Alex Calado (@alexandrecalado) March 26, 2021
All the rumors are they are taking him,and he’s more mobile than you think
— mike teague (@mrt9038) March 29, 2021
Overall, the feedback was strongly against Wilson’s projection of Jones to the 49ers at number three, with most commenters taking into account the world class talent he had surrounding him at Alabama and his alleged lack of mobility.
But ultimately, you can’t fault Jones for taking advantage of the weapons he had with the Crimson Tide. He did exactly what he needed to do, and he did it with more efficiency than arguably any QB in history, even breaking Joe Burrow’s single-season passer efficiency record of 201.96 last year with a 203.06 rating, and Colt McCoy’s completion percentage record of 76.7% from 2008 with a 77.4 percent mark.
He might not have the athleticism of Fields, but he showed who the better QB was in the CFP national championship game.
He might not have the raw physical tools of Lance or Lawrence, or the hype of Wilson in these late stages of the scouting game, but he has the big game experience and the near-flawless college performances to back up his rankings.
Whether or not Jones is just a product of the best “system” in college football or a bona fide superstar in his own right will be revealed at the next level, but for now, you have to give him the benefit of the doubt — regardless of how he looks, he gets the job done, and he’s not done growing and improving yet by a long shot.
And as Brady and so many others have proved so succinctly and undoubtedly in years’ past, as there is far more to the typical makeup of a superstar NFL QB than can be measured at any scouting combine.