Denver Broncos: Mac Jones a viable option at quarterback?

Alabama QB Mac Jones, Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]
Alabama QB Mac Jones, Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft prospect [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.] /

The 2021 offseason is going to be a fascinating one for the Denver Broncos as we’ve already got plenty of talk about the quarterback position from Drew Lock to Matthew Stafford and the 2021 NFL Draft.

The 2021 NFL Draft class obviously begins with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, a player that is completely unattainable for the Denver Broncos. Lawrence has long been considered a lock to go first overall in this particular draft, and nothing has changed in that regard. It seems likely he will be a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars before too long.

After Lawrence, opinions are somewhat mixed, but BYU’s Zach Wilson seems to be solidifying himself as a more consensus QB2 in this class by the day.

With the 9th overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, it would seem that if the Denver Broncos and new general manager George Paton want to go the NFL Draft route at quarterback, the best possible options would be Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, two tremendous athletes with big-time arm talent.

For Fields, processing speed has been a relatively consistent issue, which is part of the reason why he’s not being considered the consensus QB2. Trey Lance has a ton of talent, but only 17 games at North Dakota State and some of his worst tape in a glorified exhibition in 2020.

The Broncos could very well take a shot on the talent of a Fields or Lance with the 9th pick if either are available, but there is another option that could be intriguing to the front office and scouting department.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, the guy who took over for Tua Tagovailoa in the 2019 season and became a Heisman candidate in 2020, was tremendous for the Crimson Tide this past season.

Jones has caught a lot of flak from Draft Twitter for his lack of elite athleticism or the fact that he has played with arguably the best collection of offensive talent ever assembled by Nick Saban with the Crimson Tide, but Jones frankly checks a lot of boxes you look for at the quarterback position.

A deeper dive is going to be required on Jones. Opinions about him seem to be fairly split when it comes to pundits and talent evaluators around the NFL media community. Some like Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN see him as a top 15 overall prospect.

Others view him as a day two quarterback who will go in the later portion of the first round because of the value of having that fifth-year option for quarterbacks.

When you watch the way Jones operates the Alabama offense, it’s hard not to be impressed even considering the fact that he was throwing to four first-round receivers over the last two years including Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Jaylen Waddle, and Heisman winner DeVonta Smith.

The Denver Broncos certainly have an exciting core of receivers and tight ends, a group that includes Jones’ college teammate Jeudy. The fact that Alabama is run like an NFL program always makes their guys more intriguing when it comes to projecting to the NFL level, even if not every single player coming from the Crimson Tide turns out to be a great pro.

Jones doesn’t have elite scrambling ability but he is poised in the pocket and has some escape-ability there.

Jones has a very good understanding of timing, he is an accurate passer to all levels of the field, and he’s been extremely productive.

His overall athletic makeup could prevent him from being the 9th overall pick to the Denver Broncos, but if George Paton is in on quarterbacks in this draft class, Mac Jones is an intriguing option in the back end of the first round, whether the Broncos would have to trade back or trade up to get him.