The 2021 NFL Draft class has the makings to be an all-timer as far as the quarterback position is concerned.
In the order they were picked, Trevor Lawrence is seen as a generational talent, while each one of Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones could become high-end starters in the league down the road.
It goes without saying Jones wasn’t as hyped as the other four QBs, but he’s looked just as good (if not better) than them in the preseason thus far.
How’s that for the Patriot Way?
In fact, the only other rookie who can really hold a candle to the Patriots’ No. 15 overall pick is Wilson, which is perfect when you consider they play in the same division and will be compared to each other on a game-by-game basis.
While it’s far too early to draw a conclusion about either player, let’s compare their respective preseason performances, shall we?
Patriots: Has Mac Jones had a better preseason than Zach Wilson?
We hate that there has to be a loser in this scenario, but Wilson might have a slight edge on Jones speaking strictly in terms of stats.
- Jones: 26-of-38 (68.4%) for 233 yards and zero turnovers
- Wilson: 15-of-20 (75%) for 191 yards, 2 TD and zero turnovers
In Jones’ defense, his numbers would look a lot better had Kristian Wilkerson hauled in a perfectly-thrown deep ball against Washington. N’Keal Harry dropped a deep dime as well. Despite that, however, Wilson has still performed better than the Patriots’ first-rounder … and he’s been seeing better defenders since he’s slated to be the Jets’ starter.
That, of course, isn’t to say Jones has played poorly. Wilson has just showcased more natural arm talent and an ability to make throws on the run. The former BYU star has also taken more chances than Jones, averaging an impressive 12.7 yards per completion compared to Jones’ 8.9 clip.
Again, that isn’t a knock on Jones. The Alabama product has hardly played any snaps with the Patriots’ first-team receivers. Wilson, meanwhile, has targeted Corey Davis, a former No. 5 overall pick and an established receiver in the league, on a whopping 50% of his total dropbacks this preseason.
Context matters, and Wilson having the luxury of playing with the Jets’ starters has helped him look superior to Jones, who’s started both of the Patriots’ preseason games on the bench before subbing in for Cam Newton.
The main takeaway here is that Jones wouldn’t be outmatched if the Patriots named him their Week 1 starter. He’s showed great pocket awareness, is quick going through progressions, and has looked far more agile than we expected.
There’s no shame in admitting Jones has been second-best to Wilson, who’s enjoyed a near-perfect start to the preseason.
The bottom line is that Jones has performed better than Lawrence, Lance and Fields thus far. That’s an achievement by itself given where Jones was drafted and should leave Patriots fans feeling excited about his future.