The New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints are "very high" on Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, according to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.
"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. "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."
While Trevor Lawrence has been locked in as the Jacksonville Jaguars' top pick for months, the New York Jets can go in numerous directions with the No. 2 overall selection. New York's decision will likely come down to quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Justin Fields, or outside playmakers like DeVonta Smith and Ja'Marr Chase.
Appearing on on DiPietro, Canty and Rothenberg on April 6, ESPN's Adam Schefter asserted Jones would likely come off the board at No. 3 to the San Francisco 49ers. NBC Sports' Peter King followed up Monday to report the Niners haven't made a final decision.
La Canfora was more skeptical of the Crimson Tide star landing in the Bay Area, writing it "is not passing the smell test of some other teams in this draft."
Jones was prolific in his only full season as a starting quarterback, throwing for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 77.4 percent of his passes.
Still, it's fair to wonder how much that translates when he isn't attacking college secondaries with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle as two of his top targets.
The B/R NFL Scouting Department projected Jones to land at No. 15 to the Patriots. Nate Tice provided an explanation of the pick:
"He may have shaken his head in disgust at Mac Jones' pro day, but Bill Belichick goes with his fast-processing QB of the future. While Jones' upside is limited, he would bring smarts, accuracy, anticipation and poised play to New England that will get the most out of whatever system and talent is around him, although he might not be able to create much more out of it."
Because of where their first picks fall on Day 1, New England and New Orleans probably won't have a shot at Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson or Trey Lance. Jones will likely be the best signal-caller on the board when they're on the clock.
And the Patriots and Saints could be in the market for a QB over the three-night draft. In both cases, they retained a veteran—Cam Newton for the former, Jameis Winston for the latter—who may not be the long-term solution.
Newton struggled in 2020, finishing with 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 592 yards and 12 scores. However, the three-time Pro Bowler acknowledged his COVID-19 diagnosis was a point of demarcation in his season.
Winston, meanwhile, only threw 11 passes in 2020, with the Saints turning instead to Taysom Hill to replace an injured Drew Brees. The lasting image of the 27-year-old largely remains a 2019 campaign in which he led the NFL in passing (5,109 yards) while throwing for 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.