Some of the praise surrounding New England Patriots rookie Mac Jones entering the 2021 NFL Draft was that among the first-round quarterbacks he was the most pro-ready.
A high football IQ and an accurate arm were among the reasons for that NFL-ready designation. His excellent preparation was certainly a factor, too.
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton even told reporters after the team's preseason opener a few weeks ago that Jones' preparation is "pristine."
After Thursday's joint practice versus the New York Giants, Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower gave a great example of the hard work Jones puts into preparing himself for every possible scenario on the field.
"I'll just say with Mac, he's a terrific kid. He works hard. Real smart dude," Hightower said. "He's going to go over the edge. I've been impressed with him in OTAs and how hard he works.
"I actually found out yesterday he's been looking at some of the defensive plays so he can conceptually see how we kind of work and stuff. I give him credit for that because, I mean, not a lot of young guys would see that as an opportunity. He did that on his own. You can take that for what it's worth. The kid works hard."
Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater explained earlier this week how Jones was already earning the respect of his teammates, even the veteran players. A rookie quarterback studying defensive plays is quite impressive, and given Hightower's comments, it certainly hasn't gone unnoticed.
This is the type of dedication it takes to be a great quarterback. Jones still has to prove he can execute in real game situations against quality defenses in the regular season, but half the battle (or more, perhaps) is being well-prepared. From that standpoint, it looks like Jones will be in pretty good shape in Year 1.