Mac Jones was just the fifth quarterback taken in the 2021 NFL Draft, falling to the New England Patriots after the San Francisco 49ers famously passed on him at No. 3 overall.
But the No. 15 overall pick has defied the doubters so far in 2021, seizing the Patriots’ starting job immediately and surging to the top of his class through 10 regular season games.
His opponents are taking notice.
Kansas City Chiefs star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu took to Twitter on Tuesday to offer some unsolicited praise for Jones, whose Crimson Tide are SEC rivals of the Honey Badger’s LSU Tigers, and call out the rookie’s detractors.
“Mac Jones wasn’t trendy enough for y’all at first huh now y’all love him…Man, y’all funny!!!” Mathieu said. “Day in and day out!!! Y’all should be on Comedy Central.
“He don’t throw side arm or run fast so people knocked him,” the Chiefs’ do-it-all defender added. “Dude can play QB! Period.”
Jones has made that abundantly clear as the Patriots have surged in the AFC playoff picture, winning four straight games.
The 23-yard old just posted the best passer rating in the Patriots’ history for a rookie in Sunday’s 45-7 demolition of the Cleveland Browns and comes into Week 11 with the NFL’s fourth-best completion percentage.
No other first-year quarterback comes close to Jones’s 13 touchdown passes and 2,333 passing yards, and he also leads all rookies with a 94.1 passer rating.
The advanced numbers on Jones suggest he might even be working himself into the conversation of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league thanks to his recent play.
He’s done all of that despite not having the coveted traits many evaluators loved about players like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields or Trey Lance: the elite size, tremendous arm strength and ability to make plays outside of the pocket.
Rather, Jones has proven you can still succeed as an old-school pocket passer, relying on his preparation and accuracy to move the ball while showing his arm has more juice than people thought during the scouting process.
Sunday’s pristine performance raised the bar for Jones and the Patriots to the point where national media now see New England as a serious threat in the AFC.
But players like Mathieu, who might have the task of stopping him in the playoffs at some point this year, were never sleeping on him to begin with.
Sign up for Patriots updates🏈
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during football season.