NFL draft: Mac Jones didn't go No. 3, and his slide lasted until the Patriots took him 15th

Mac Jones wasn't on the radar as a top-10 pick until the San Francisco 49ers made a bold move up to No. 3. Reporters said the team had its eyes on Jones. Many mock drafts followed suit.

There was always a possibility that if Jones didn't go No. 3, he might be on the board for a long time.

He ended up in a good spot. The New England Patriots took him with the 15th overall pick. It's the first time Bill Belichick has drafted a quarterback in the first round.

It ends up being a promising situation for Jones, even if it was not the third pick that had been speculated about for weeks.

Mac Jones was a Heisman finalist at Alabama last season. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Mac Jones was a Heisman finalist at Alabama last season. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Mac Jones was criticized before the draft

Jones had a weird pre-draft process.

He had a fantastic season at Alabama and was mostly considered a first-round talent. Then the 49ers reports came, and due in large part to 49ers fans hating the idea of the team trading up for Jones, his game was picked apart from all angles. His shortcomings, most notably a lack of top-end athleticism or a cannon of an arm, were amplified.

That was never fair to Jones. He wasn't the one reporting that the 49ers were considering him at third overall but he got his name dragged on social media for weeks, though that's common for many quarterbacks before the draft.

Had there never been a report that the 49ers were going to draft Jones, he would have had a normal, under-the-radar draft process, including when he was picked.

It all turned out as well as possible for Jones. He seemed to appreciate the landing spot.

Patriots get their new QB

Jones going to the Patriots if the 49ers passed on him always made sense. The Patriots brought back Cam Newton, but Newton struggled to throw the ball last season. New England needed a quarterback of the future. Belichick's relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban is well known.

Jones does have viable skills as an NFL quarterback. He was very productive at Alabama against the toughest possible competition. He makes good reads and has a good passing touch. He should fit very well in the Patriots' offense.

Jones might not have the upside of Trey Lance, who did go third to San Francisco, but he probably has a fairly high floor. Again, if the scuttlebutt about him going third never happened, the pick would have been just fine.

The Patriots are one of the best organizations in sports. Jones is a quarterback removed from Tom Brady in New England, so he doesn't have the pressure of immediately replacing a legend. Not going No. 3 might be a great thing for Jones in the end. It might be pretty good for the Patriots too.

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