This week’s CBSSports.com mock draft has the Steelers making a big change on the board to catch Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
Why not right? He drove the Alabama Crimson Tide to the 2020 college football playoff championship. And if Ben Roethlisberger is eliminated, the Steelers will be looking for the quarterback of the future.
If not this year, next.
Opinions are divided on Jones, and it’s a cautionary tale about the amount of action to take on these mock drafts so early in the process.
Here’s what CBS had to say in their article on why the Steelers would try to trade with the Los Angeles Chargers at the No. 11 pick from the No. 24 pick.
“… The Steelers are looking for their next franchise quarterback and will have to trade to get it. Two decades ago, Jones, a traditional pocket passer, would have been one of the top five picks. In 2021, he will be valued less than the most athletic quarterbacks in this class, but he has a chance to be just as good if not better. “
Note that “less than the most athletic quarterbacks … two decades ago.” We will come back to that. In the meantime, I have some other thoughts on this theory.
As of now, I don’t think you have to jump 11 spots to get Jones. If the Steelers really want it, it may still be available in the 1920s. But I guess quarterbacks tend to gain ground as draft day approaches. And sometimes teams get the trigger when it comes to writing them.
Frankly, I don’t care when teams do that for a quarterback. If you are completely sold by a player in that crucial position and you want him at 24th place and you think someone else can catch him before you, then switch to get it. And it pays a lot to do it.
You’re assuming the guy will be your next franchise quarterback to replace Big Ben, right? Cost shouldn’t matter.
So I understand the concept of bolting the dash. I co-sign with that mindset.
But, if it’s me, and we’re talking about Jones specifically, I’m not completely sold. I’m not even convinced he’s a first-round player, much less that he’s worth climbing high to get there.
I loved him in college. How could you not? And I understand why some people make comparisons to Joe Burrow. He was last year’s No. 1 overall pick outside of LSU and was having a good rookie season before sustaining a knee injury.
Like Burrow, Jones was a championship quarterback at a major SEC school. This year, he indicated that he has a better arm than the skeptics assumed. He has a good head on his shoulders in his pocket. And it is accurate. A completion percentage of 77.4% and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 41: 4 prove it.
However, it is an inch or two smaller than Burrow. It weighs 5-10 pounds less. And it is perceived as less agile moving around the pocket or escaping from it.
As NFL analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz told NBC Chicago when discussing the idea of the Bears trading for a quarterback, Schwartz criticized Jones. And much of his analysis had to do with that aforementioned lack of mobility.
“Mac Jones, I don’t see him being good in the NFL,” Schwartz said. “I think we are looking at a new version of the quarterback that has to be mobile. Mac Jones is not mobile. I think we see how open their wide receivers are in Alabama: Tua (Tagovailoa, fellow Alabama alumnus) is having this problem in the NFL, they are not open in the NFL. You have to open them. You have to say, ‘Okay, it’s not open now, but if I throw the ball now, it will be open then.’ That anticipation, you don’t have to do that in Alabama. You don’t have to anticipate, these guys are very open.
“I’m concerned about Mac Jones’ mobility and his ability to pitch into narrow windows when he’s not perfect.”
I also sign all that. As USA Today’s Doug Farrar noted, Alabama went to great lengths to minimize Jones’ need to pitch on the move.
And if the Steelers offensive line requires as many quick shots as it did last year while undergoing a rebuilding process, the Steelers better wait to put Jones behind five blockers who are in the realignment stages to be repaired.
Not to mention the continued absence of a complementary running game.
In February, preparing a mock draft to excite Steelers fans is easy. But it’s like betting on the over / under goal total for the Penguins’ first postseason game two months in advance. Especially this year, when we don’t even know if the Penguins will make the playoffs. And much less who are they playing.
There are too many variables like workouts, trades, free agency decisions and offseason injuries to put together a true table.
However, people do them anyway. And occasionally where I see the value is talking about the thought process that may be necessary to land a certain player, especially a quarterback.
If some of you are on the “Mac Jones Express,” and my email and Twitter account indicate that many of you are, this dialogue at least serves a purpose today.
Not so much on the cause and effect of “A mock draft says the Steelers are drafting Mac Jones, so expect that to happen.”
Rather, it’s a conversation starter if the Steelers should be interested in Jones to begin with. And if it is really worth changing for him.
For now, I’d say no to both.
Tim Benz is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets can be republished. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.
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