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Jumbo Package: Mac Jones is the linchpin of the NFL Draft

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Who’d have guess this 12 months ago?

Citadel v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I apologize for this being late. I really screwed up my hands this week doing battle with Hawthorn trees and discovered along the way that I am quite allergic to them. It’s made any sort of writing nigh impossible (and my allergies are so gunky that dictation is practically useless.) So, I won’t be editorializing quite so much in this one. But, there are a lot of very interesting stories here today, in particular regarding Mac Jones.

Jones’ ascendance up the draft charts has been as unexpected as Gregory Rousseau’s sharp decline. In particular, there are a few teams that everyone is waiting on — Jones is the linchpin, and what Atlanta and San Francisco do will shape this draft and NFL fortunes for years to come.

Some see Sunshine as the best quarterback, but Jones as the most advanced. This goes to an argument that I’ve made frequently about Joker. It’s one I made about Joe Burrow: Jones relies on his brains and accuracy to win. His arm strength isn’t going to wow you, but don’t underestimate it either. As a result of his style of play and four-year-veteran status under great mentors and coaches, his floor simply is not that low, even if he doesn’t immediately scream super star. For a team in win-now mode, but looking to the future, Jones is a great pickup.

“Win now, but look to the future” really does fit two teams at the very top too. San Francisco with the 3rd overall pick. But would the 49ers really jump on Jones at 3? Well, he wowed Coach Shanahan:

Jones does match up with some of what Kyle Shanahan’s succeeded with at the position in the past. Jones’s rep for having a great head for the game isn’t playing off old stereotypes—it’s who he is. In the MMQB column, we gave you the story of a team that did an install with him a couple of months ago. The other day, they asked him if he remembered the first play they put in front of him.

Jones spit the whole thing back out at them. Remember, this is after two months chock full of Zoom meetings with teams, media appearances, training, etc. I can tell you the team was floored, and it’s not like they didn’t know he was smart to begin with.

And then there is Atlanta, where owner Arthur Blank is “enamored” with picking up a quarterback this year, and does not think there will be another class like this for a while. The Dirty Birds are loaded on offense, needing to win now. But many see the new GM as a value drafter: that is, trade the pick for value or take the best on the board. If it’s the latter, then Kyle Pitts is alleged to be the man. But if it’s the former, we may see how much pull management has versus the billionaire cutting checks. If Jones is on the Board, it may not matter how much Fontenot wants Pitts.

There are two Alabama NFL starting QBs from Alabama this year, and soon to be a third.

One is solid in his spot, though he needs to improve. Firing Chan Gailey was a tremendous step in getting Tua Tagovailoa moving forward in his NFL career. (Chan Gailey, BTW, hired Bill O’Brien to run his offense at Georgia Tech. Just throwing that out there.) The Fish look for him to take the next step this year. To which I suggest, get the dude some playmakers out there. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Canning Chan was the first step, and by far the easiest.

The other may not be quite so settled. New coach Nick Sirianni hasn’t given Jalen Hurts a coronation; Jalen will have to earn the job all over again.

Will Bryce Young make a 4th Tide starter in two years? Who knows. His debut in the A-Day game showed that he “passed the test; he didn’t ace it.”

Given how criminally few attempts he had last season, Alabama is functionally starting a freshman this season. He’ll make his share of solid plays; he’ll make a few jaw-droppes; and he’ll make a few head-scratchingly bad decisions or throws too. He has a lot of Tua in him, TBH. He has a lot of mobility, supreme confidence in his arm, and is willing to gamble. It may be that last one that drives Nick Saban up the wall. But when you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a bit too.

I caution patience for everyone.

As expected, John Petty did declare for the NBA draft yesterday. IYAM, it was about a year too late. His stock was never going to be higher than it was after the 2020 season. He’s grown a lot in nearly every aspect of his play over four years, but some people just aren’t ever going to be lottery players. Petty is one such player. He was a late-first/second-rounder last year; and he is likely a late-first/second rounder this year...and may have even slipped some.

Joining him is Josh Primo, who also sought feedback from NBA teams and threw his hat in the ring. He has not lost his eligibility yet, so with an adverse appraisal, he very well may still be back. In fact, I would almost bet my life on it. He has a ton of native talent, but he’s not NBA-ready. Not yet.

Biscuit vs. Bobby: Who won in practice?

Sark is off to a rousing start in Texas...being accused of tampering with Michigan’s Xavier Worthy. Woof.

FINALLY, Alabama’s pending Trans legislation is going to have it firmly within the NCAA’s sights. HB391 prevents children from participating in opposite sex sports on the basis of their mere self-identified gender identity. The other part of that bill prevents doctors from prescribing hormone replacement drugs to children, who are legally deemed incapable of making informed consent regarding life-altering medical treatment. (If Tavistock has taught us anything, it’s that the latter proposition should be the far less controversial one. However, it has not been...for a variety of reasons.)

TIME TO START A FIGHT IN THE COMMENTS! (Seriously, approach this in good faith. There are a lot of countervailing arguments and interests to weigh here. I have faith in you!)

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