Mac Jones is entering life without a Heisman Trophy winner to throw to, but seems to be doing just fine in his first chance flying solo.
The Alabama quarterback has been boosting his draft stock during Senior Bowl practices this week, with former Jets GM and ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum’s think tank, The 33rd Team, even tabbing Jones’ value as a top-15 pick.
“I don’t think I needed to prove anything,” Jones told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “The tape is the tape and I did what I did and obviously I had a great team but I just wanted to come and kinda learn more about NFL football and learn a new playbook which I’ve done a good job with.
“I understand all the plays and it’s all the same plays. It’s just the verbiage and wordage is kind of a little different so I kind of just wanted to get those reps of the microphone and be in the huddle and as each day went on I got better.”
The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Jones completed 311 of 402 passes for 41 touchdowns and four interceptions in his only year as a full-time starter, while leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship.
Jones has been widely rated as the No. 5 quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft class, behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. None of those top four quarterbacks are seniors, though, opening the door for the spotlight to be on Jones at the Senior Bowl.
“Mac Jones could not have had a better day than he did today at @seniorbowl practice,” ESPN analyst Louis Riddick tweeted on Wednesday. “Total command of every play he participated in, and threw the ball with exceptional accuracy.”
An area scout for an AFC team also told NFL.com that he was the most impressive of six quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl.
The Patriots, Saints and Texans were among the teams to meet this week with Jones, according to the Alabama quarterback, but he may not get to star in Saturday’s game. He reportedly injured his left ankle during Thursday’s practice and is questionable for the game.
“I rolled my ankle a little bit. At first I was a little worried about my right leg and now my left leg is a little hurt,” Jones said. “I didn’t get to finish (practice) but I don’t want to risk it at this point. We’ll just kind of figure out treatment and see how I feel. I’m not going to go out there if I’m not 100 percent.”
Still, Jones left a strong impression during the week.
“The guy was just playing two weeks ago,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who is coaching one of the teams at the Senior Bowl, told reporters on Wednesday. “The fact that he’s here, I think, speaks a lot about who he is. You get a chance to see his intelligence. He makes really quick decisions. He processes information quickly, highly intelligent. He’s an alpha. He’s the first guy on the practice field. He’s the first guy in the runnings.
“He’s got a lot of really, really, really strong traits.”