Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, right, holds a team jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the New England Patriots selected him with the 15th pick in the NFL football draft, Thursday April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
- The New England Patriots selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones in the first round of last week’s NFL Draft
- Coach Bill Belichick says Jones is No. 3 on the depth chart behind Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham
- The odds on each of the three QBs chances to start in Week 1 with analysis of the situation can be found below
The New England Patriots selected a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft last week for the first time in Bill Belichick’s 21-year tenure as coach.
However, Mac Jones will start at the bottom according to Belichick. The coach says the former Alabama star is No. 3 on the Patriots’ QB depth chart behind incumbent starter Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham.
The question, though, is where will Jones stand come Week 1 of the 2021 season? The oddsmakers believe Jones will be second string to Newton by that point.
Odds to be Patriots’ Starting QB in Week 1 of 2021 Season
|Quarterback||Odds at DraftKings|
Odds as of May 4th.
Tough to Replace a Legend
Newton took on the incredibly difficult task of replacing Tom Brady as the starting QB last season when he signed with the Patriots as a free agent. All Brady did in 20 seasons with New England was win six Super Bowls.
While not on Brady’s level – who is on TB 12’s level? – Newton put together an impressive resume in nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Newton was the NFL MVP in 2015 when he led the Panthers to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Denver Broncos, and was selected to three Pro Bowls.
With the Cam Newton era in Carolina officially ending today, look back at some of No. 1’s best celebrations with the Panthers 🕺
(via @thecheckdown) pic.twitter.com/kogoLQ7JcO
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) March 24, 2020
However, Newton was also limited to just two games with the Panthers in 2019 because of a foot injury. The rust showed last season when Newton also had to adapt to a new offense.
Newton did not exactly flash Pro Bowl form as the Patriots went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. He completed 65.8% of his passes for 2,657 yards and just eight touchdowns while being intercepted 10 times.
In fairness to Newton, he did contract COVID-19. The coronavirus caused him to miss the Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and likely weakened him for a while after.
Newton did have some good moments before getting ill.
Cam Newton has created some impressive highlights in only three games with the Patriots.🔥🔥 Can’t wait to see him back out on the field soon. pic.twitter.com/8tLbGjYLsa
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) October 12, 2020
The Patriots also did not surround Newton with many weapons. Jakobi Meyers was the top receiver and posted pedestrian numbers with 59 receptions for 729 yards and no touchdowns. Leading rusher Damien Harris had just 691 yards and two TDs on 137 carries.
Is Jones Ready?
Most draft analysts consider Jones as potentially ready to step in as a starter for a team that runs a traditional offense with a drop-back passing style. Emphasis on potentially.
The Patriots altered their scheme to Newton last season, using more read options and trying to capitalize on his speed. However, Brady was a pocket passer throughout his long tenure in New England and was quite successful.
I’m not even a Patriots fan, but Tom Brady and Randy Moss were the best combo since Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. pic.twitter.com/R7RYaMcB29
— In My Mind (@MeAloneInMyMind) April 27, 2021
Thus, Jones would seemingly be a good fit for the style offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels prefers.
Yet Jones did not have a lengthy college career and that brings about some pause. He started the final last four games in 2019 for Alabama after Tua Tagovailoa was injured then took over as the QB1 last season.
Jones, though, did have a quite a 2020 season while being a Heisman Trophy finalist, winning the Davey O’Brien Award as the national’s top quarterback and leading Alabama to an 11-0 record and the national championship.
Jones set the NCAA record with a 77.4% completion rate in the pandemic-shortened season. He also had 4,500 passing yards and 41 TD passes to just four picks.
2021 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds Tracker
Pats Want to Win Now
Belichick has spent a lot of owner Robert Kraft’s money in free agency this offseason not just to return the Patriots back into the playoffs but to get to another Super Bowl.
Among the players who have been added are tight ends Hunter Harvey and Jonnu Smith, wide receiver Nelson Agholor and edge rusher Matthew Judon. The Patriots also re-signed standout center David Andrews and Newton for one year and just $3.5 million after he made just $1.5 million last season.
Welcome to the New England offense, @Hunter_Henry84, @BournePoly11 & Nelson Agholor! pic.twitter.com/f1hwbRuWfg
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) March 19, 2021
Will Belichick be able to blend so many newcomers into a competitive team? That is the plan as the Patriots fancy themselves as Super Bowl contenders rather than a rebuilding franchise.
The Patriots are in much the same situation as the Bears where they must decide to either go with youth at QB (Justin Fields in Chicago’s case) or a veteran (Andy Dalton).
Fans might even be more excited about Fields in Chicago than Jones in New England.
We Just Got Justin Fields x Father Stretch My Hands pic.twitter.com/v0KUQAelfE
— Barstool Chicago (@barstoolchicago) April 30, 2021
Eyeing the Super Bowl, it is hard to image Belichick beginning a season with a rookie quarterback who had just 15 starts at the college level. It also stands to reason that the Patriots would want to see how Newton fares with better targets in the passing game.
So, while it does not represent great value, betting Newton to start in Week 1 is the way to go here.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.