2021 NFL Draft: ESPN expert calls Mac Jones 'best pick' of first round

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Nick Goss
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ESPN expert calls Pats taking Mac Jones 'best pick' of first round originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots didn't have to trade up to select a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. There was one sitting there at No. 15 when the Pats were finally on the clock Thursday night.

Alabama's Mac Jones heard his name called from league commissioner Roger Goodell, making him the newest member of the Patriots.

Jones is coming off a fantastic 2020 season for Alabama during which he led the Crimson Tide to an unbeaten 13-0 record and a national championship.

Report: Pats coach Bill Belichick 'extremely excited' to work with young QB

Jones was projected in many mock drafts to go as high as No. 3 overall to the San Francisco 49ers. But he slid all the way to the Patriots at No. 15. 

At least one expert thinks it was the best pick of the entire first round.

"I think it was the best pick of the draft last night because it's the perfect place for a player to go and excel," ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said Friday on "NFL Live". "Now, New England is famous as an organization for saying, 'Don't tell me what a player can't do, tell me what a player can do.' I think they looked at it and said, 'This kid's really good with the ball -- tempo, trajectory, anticipation of ball placement, movement in the pocket, super smart and can control the line of scrimmage.

"So, while a lot of people talked about the lack of athleticism, and that's fair, Bill Belichick and the Patriots said there's a lot this guy can do. "

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Orlovsky also highlighted the talent that the Patriots can surround Jones with, particularly along the offensive line.

"The second thing is this, everyone always says the best thing you can give a rookie quarterback is a run game. No, it's not. The best thing you can give a rookie quarterback is protection, and this is a top five offensive line in the NFL in New England," Orlovsky explained. "Mac Jones can step in and play right away, which he should, and he's going to be protected."

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The Patriots bolstered their offensive line in free agency by signing left tackle Trent Brown and center Ted Karras. They also re-signed starting center and team captain David Andrews. Jones, unlike a lot of rookie quarterbacks who get drafted by bad teams, won't be running for his life in the backfield on many plays. 

He should consistently have enough time to find the open wide receivers and tight ends, which bodes well for the Patriots when you consider his impressive accuracy and high football IQ.

Jones is going to a great franchise with quality players and coaches, including the best head coach of all time in Bill Belichick. It's the perfect spot for him to thrive and make an immediate impact as a rookie.