The Mac Jones hype train continues to gain steam.
The Alabama quarterback generally hasn't been viewed as a top-four QB prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. He's been pegged a notch below the elite class of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance, all of whom could be top-10 picks in April.
But Jones' draft stock apparently has some momentum, to the point where NBC Sports' Peter King wrote he "wouldn't be surprised" if Jones is selected ahead of Lance.
As King pointed out Monday, the North Dakota State product has played just one game in 414 days after the Bison postponed their 2020 season last fall due to COVID-19.
"I mention this because one NFL coach whose team is in the market for a quarterback this offseason told me the other day Lance scares him," King wrote. " 'He’s a guy we all needed to see more of, for a lot of reasons,' this coach said."
Meanwhile, Jones posted video game numbers for the Crimson Tide last season -- 77.4% completion rate, 4,500 yards, 41 touchdown passes and four interceptions -- en route to a national championship. Since then, the 22-year-old twice has been compared to Tom Brady and drawn strong reviews at the 2021 Senior Bowl.
The New England Patriots, of course, will have a close eye on both Lance and Jones in the NFL Draft. They desperately need a QB, and Jones seemed like a potential option for New England at No. 15 overall.
But if more coaches on teams near the top of the draft are "scared" of Lance, perhaps he'd be the best signal-caller available at No. 15, with Jones already off the board.
The Patriots could find Lance enticing in that scenario. The 20-year-old didn't throw a single interception in 2019, is more mobile than Jones and arguably has more upside.
Unless New England also adds a QB via trade or free agency, though, it may prefer a draft prospect with a more proven track record (like Jones) who can be thrown into the fire right away.
The stocks of draft prospects always fluctuate during this time, so Lance still could land in the top 10. But expect the Patriots to pay close attention to how their NFL peers view both QBs over the next two months.