In April, all eyes were on the NFL Draft as five highly touted quarterback prospects were available for selection. The least dynamic prospect of the five in most people’s eyes was Mac Jones. Jones is not the most athletic, he doesn’t have the strongest arm and he only started one full season at the collegiate level.
Jones was dominant in his one season as the full time starter at Alabama and his play led them to an undefeated season and a National Championship. His performance was good enough to finish third in Heisman voting. Despite this, Jones was the last of the five highly touted quarterback prospects selected, falling to fifthteen overall when the New England Patriots selected him.
Jones is very similar in play style to former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Both are pocket passers and they rely on their brain more than their athleticism. Bill Belichick is used to coaching with this style of quarterback, so the fit was perfect for Jones. The Patriots also decided to splash some cash this offseason, acquiring tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, as well as wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to help the offense.
The situation Jones fell into is probably the biggest reason why he is the man to bet on when it comes to the Rookie of the Year award. Quarterbacks typically are the ones who win awards like this and the other four rookie quarterbacks from the draft were selected into situations that are more difficult to thrive in than the one Jones is in.
The first overall pick in the draft was quarterback Trevor Lawerence by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are a dysfunctional franchise and are throwing Lawrence into the fire with a lack of system around him. The Jaguars, along with having a rookie quarterback, also have a new head coach, and so far the results in Jacksonville have been poor. The team is 1-5 and Lawrence thus far has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.
The second overall pick, Zach Wilson, was also drafted into a tough situation. The New York Jets, like the Jaguars, are also playing a rookie quarterback with a new head coach. Both of these teams were terrible last year and one player does not change a franchise overnight. Wilson has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns and the Jets have a 1-5 record.
Trey Lance went third overall to the San Francisco 49ers, but the 49ers are not starting Lance. They want Lance to develop behind Jimmy Garoppolo who is a decent quarterback. Lance is being used sparingly and thus is not a contender for the Rookie of the Year award.
The last of the four quarterbacks who were selected ahead of Jones was Justin Fields. At the beginning of the year, Fields was not starting for the Chicago Bears, who selected him tenth overall, but things have changed and the rookie is getting his shot. So far the results have been mixed, and while being able to display moments of promise, he has not been good on the stat sheets. He only has one game with over 200 yards passing and has thrown just two touchdowns while throwing six interceptions.
Mac Jones is the only rookie quarterback who has started a majority of his teams’ games and has more touchdowns than interceptions. Jones leads rookie quarterbacks in yards per game and touchdowns, while also being tied for the least amount of interceptions. Jones also has the Patriots at a 3-4 record, the best among rookie quarterbacks who have started every game.
So out of the aforementioned quarterbacks, Jones is clearly the frontrunner to win the Rookie of the Year award. But despite the NFL being a quarterback driven league, there is another contender out there who is not a quarterback. Bengals rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase has had a fantastic season so far. He currently sits top five in the league in receiving yards and touchdowns.
However, due to the NFL being a quarterback league I believe Mac Jones will overtake Chase for the award come season’s end. Jones will only get more comfortable and improve at the NFL level every week, and the Patriots should improve on their record with some of their tougher games already behind them. Chase should finish fairly high in the key receiving stats, but I believe the voters will see Jones lead the Patriots to a winning record and they will award him over Chase for the accomplishment of turning around a franchise’s outlook.