Perry shares insight into Belichick's role in drafting Mac Jones

Perry shares insight into Belichick's role in drafting Mac Jones originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Three years after taking Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots are in the market for another franchise quarterback.

Jones' rocky journey from Rookie of the Year runner-up to Bailey Zappe's backup is well-documented. But what did Bill Belichick and the Patriots actually think of Jones when they drafted him in 2021, and what role (if any) did team owner Robert Kraft play in Jones' selection?

Those questions are worth exploring in light of Belichick and the Patriots parting ways after 24 seasons, and with Jones a prime trade candidate this offseason if New England uses its No. 3 overall pick to take a QB in the 2024 NFL Draft.

On the latest Patriots Talk Podcast, our Phil Perry revealed that Belichick made the call to draft Jones in 2021 without any influence from Kraft.

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"Yes, Bill Belichick did decide to draft Mac Jones," Perry told host Tom E. Curran. "It was not Robert Kraft saying to Bill Belichick, 'We need a quarterback and we need one now and there's one left who looks like he could be a first-round caliber kind of player and so you need to take him.' No, that didn't happen. That's my understanding."

While Belichick had final say, it was still a collaborative process; the Patriots even released a video of Belichick consulting then-director of personnel Dave Ziegler, Eliot Wolf, Matt Groh and Matt Patricia before submitting the Jones pick.

But while Kraft was in the "war room" with Belichick on draft night, he wasn't a part of that process, per Perry.

"There were a lot of people that were involved in Bill Belichick's ultimate decision there and a lot of people he consulted, but Robert Kraft wasn't one of them, and his opinion was not shared in that moment, is my understanding," Perry said.

"What I was told as far as Robert Kraft's involvement was, 'Robert had nothing to do with it.'"

Belichick thought highly enough of Jones to take him with the franchise's highest draft pick since 2008. But according to Perry, Belichick didn't exactly view Jones as the second coming of Tom Brady.

"Does that mean that Bill Belichick was all-in and fully sold on Mac Jones? My understanding is, no, he wasn't," Perry said. "But there was almost a reluctant acceptance of the fact that the Patriots badly needed a quarterback and that Mac Jones was good enough.

"They viewed him almost as an Andy Dalton type. Can he be Andy Dalton, what Andy Dalton was in his prime? And if he is, is he not worthy of the 15th overall pick?"

Dalton isn't the most flattering comparison, but the former Bengals QB did earn three Pro Bowl nods while guiding Cincinnati to five straight playoff berths. And with a past-his-prime Cam Newton as their QB1 at the time, the Patriots desperately needed an upgrade at the position.

"They were in, in the words that were used to me by one person, 'quarterback purgatory' at the time," Perry added. "You don't take your shots on the quarterback position, you're never going to hit. So Bill Belichick, while he looked at Mac Jones and thought he was a good enough player, did his grade quite meet the spot where they were in the draft? Was he fully all-in him? Did he want to trade up for him, potentially? No, that's my understanding.

"He didn't feel that strongly about Mac Jones, but he understood where they were as an organization, what they needed and they thought Mac Jones was good enough. And so they all ultimately came to that decision and Bill Belichick was the one who ultimately pulled the trigger."

Also in this episode:

  • Bill Belichick’s opening statement

  • Robert Kraft on why it was time to part ways