Mac Jones, as Bill Belichick made clear on draft night, currently resides behind Cam Newton on the Patriots’ quarterback depth chart.
But come Week 1 of the 2021 season, NFL analyst Field Yates believes Jones will be under center for New England.
ESPN recently tasked a handful of the network’s football minds with offering a bold prediction for an incoming rookie. Yates honed in on Jones, who he believes will have a very productive Year 1.
“Mac Jones will lead all rookie quarterbacks in touchdown passes,” Yates wrote. “The first part of this prediction is forecasting that Jones takes over as the starter by Week 1 for New England after a strong training camp. The second half is projecting a smooth transition into the NFL with a remade Patriots’ pass-catching group. Behind an excellent offensive line and with a great coaching staff to work with, Jones will step up right away. You wanted bold, right?”
It definitely is a bold prediction. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson both are in line to start from the get-go with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets, respectively. We also imagine the Chicago Bears are itching to hand over the keys to Justin Fields. Belichick, meanwhile, stuck with Newton through thick and thin last season, so there’s at least precedent the Patriots head coach could elect to do so again in 2021.
So while projecting Jones to pace rookies in TD passes is going out on a limb, expecting the Alabama product to start the majority of games for the Patriots this season is pretty bold in its own right.