2021 NFL Draft rumors: Patriots, Saints 'very high' on Mac Jones

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Nick Goss
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Report: Patriots, Saints 'very high' on Alabama QB Mac Jones originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Mac Jones is one of the most interesting prospects ahead of next week's 2021 NFL Draft.

Some mock drafts project the Alabama quarterback to go as high as No. 3 overall to the San Francisco 49ers. Other mock drafts predict Jones sliding toward the bottom of the top 10, or even closer to No. 15 overall.

Which teams outside the top 10 picks value Jones? CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora identified two with veteran head coaches.

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"I continue to hear the Patriots and Saints are two teams very high on Jones, and that if he did become the fifth quarterback off the board – which is where most had him spotted when the actual college football stopped being played – things could get interesting," La Canfora wrote earlier this month

"New England could move up a few spots from 15; New Orleans has a steep climb from 28th overall, though that's where many would have projected his sweet spot to be when his college career concluded."

2021 NFL Draft Highlights: Mac Jones

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The Patriots being mentioned here is far from surprising. They were in attendance at Jones' Pro Day in Alabama a few weeks ago, with head coach Bill Belichick among the team's representatives

The Patriots also have drafted six players from Alabama in the last 10 years, including one in three of the last five drafts. New England has selected nine players from the SEC in its last three drafts.

Jones had a fantastic 2020 season for Alabama and led the program to a national championship. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Jones also is one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks in this draft class, which would benefit a Patriots team that is hoping to compete in the short term after spending a ton of money in free agency.

The price to move up for Jones (or any other quarterback) could be substantial. Belichick doesn't often trade up, and he's never traded up into the top 10 during his 21-year tenure in New England. Then again, it's difficult to predict what the Patriots will do in the draft. After taking a bold approach to free agency, perhaps Belichick will employ a similar strategy with the draft and move up for a top QB.