From 3rd-Stringer to First-Rounder


The NFL Draft — and really, any pro sports draft — is filled with stories of kids who have “overcome adversity.” A lot of the time those stories feel manufactured, and the “adversity” boils down to a not-so-serious injury or a poor couple of weeks on the field.

So while the story of Patriots first-rounder Mac Jones could be framed as one of adversity, it’s more accurately a story of focus and purpose.

Jones was a quarterback at the University of Alabama, where he was the clear third option behind Tuo Tagovailoa (who started 9 games for the Miami Dolphins last year) and Jalen Hurts, who has a chance to be named the starter for Philadelphia this season. Unsurprisingly, Jones barely saw the field: he didn’t see a single minute in his true freshman season and saw just 16 snaps the next year.

Jones could have tried to force a move to another team, but he told Touchdown Alabama that the thought never crossed his mind. He was committed to earning his spot, and took pride in leading Alabama’s scout team offense against a defence that was ranked No. 1 in the country. He says his mentality was, “Yeah, I might not play right away, but I’m gonna grind… and it was better that way.”

Jones’ coaches will say that no one grinds as hard as he does. And if you’re a fan of college football, you know that the hard work paid off. When Tagovailoa went down with an injury in 2019, Jones took over, and was more than just a placeholder. In 11 games he threw for 14 touchdowns against just 3 interceptions. The next season? He led the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record and the national championship.

Now he has a chance to make his mark in the NFL. The Patriots, of course, have an established NFL quarterback in Cam Newton. But with the team in a transitional period — and with Jones’ focus on making himself better — we might see him sooner than you’d expect.

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