Four quarterbacks were taken ahead of Mac Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft, but through 10 games, the New England Patriots QB looks like the head of his class.
Jones leads all rookie quarterbacks in virtually every statistical category and delivered his best game as a pro Sunday, completing 19 of 23 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-7 rout of the Cleveland Browns.
So, how has the No. 15 overall pick found success where his fellow first-round quarterbacks haven't? For starters, he's in a great situation: The Patriots boast a strong running game, a solid offensive line and one of the NFL's best offensive coordinators in Josh McDaniels.
As Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran points out, though, Jones' mental acuity is also helping him thrive under McDaniels. On a new Patriots Talk Podcast with co-host Phil Perry, Curran used a classroom analogy to make his point.
"If we looked at the five rookie quarterbacks who were taken in the first round and we put them in a classroom (and said), 'Josh McDaniels is your teacher. I want you to turn in your tests,' I think Mac Jones would be routinely turning in the highest score on the test among the five," Curran said.
"Trey Lance would probably be down in the 70s. Justin Fields might be in the 80s. Trevor Lawrence might be in the 80s. Zach Wilson might have a 60 followed by a 90 followed by a 50 followed by an 83. But I think Mac Jones would be a 93 or better most weeks."
Curran's point: Even if the Patriots drafted a more highly-touted and "talented" QB, that QB still may not have enjoyed Jones' level of success. After learning under Nick Saban in Alabama's pro-style offense, Jones has demonstrated impressive intelligence, decision-making and coachability that has helped McDaniels and Bill Belichick get the most out of him on the field.
"It's a perfect marriage -- this prospect with this team and this coaching staff -- to be able to leverage his brain and understand what he can do and can't do," Perry told Curran. "It's a great fit for what they want to be offensively and who he is.
"... If he was somewhere else, it wouldn't look this way, and if somebody else was here, it wouldn't look this way, but they'd probably be better."
For more on Jones' early success and the fallout from New England's big win over the Browns, subscribe to the Patriots Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.