Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence has been pegged as the likely No. 1 pick in next month’s draft but for former NFL and longtime college football coach June Jones, he’s not the best quarterback in this year’s class.
Jones, who spent several years coaching college football at Hawaii and SMU, reiterated to Fox News in an interview this week that he believes the top signal-caller in this year’s draft is Mac Jones, the redshirt junior from Alabama.
“The quarterback that I think five years from now will be the best one is the Alabama kid, Mac Jones. He has only played one year but I’m going to be honest, of all of his throws this year, his vertical throws down the field were as accurate as I’ve ever seen including of some of the top NFL guys that are names that everybody knows,” the coach said.
In this Jan. 1, 2020, file photo, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (10) rolls out as he looks for a receiver during the first half of the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game against Michigan in Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
“I think he’s got enough movement, enough ability — he’s not a runner but he looks to throw when he slides around and I just think he’s got a chance to be a great one.”
Jones was redshirted his freshman year at Alabama in 2017. The following season he played in 14 games for the Crimson Tide, primarily on special teams. He really got his chance to show off his ability in 2016, when he took over the starting job from Tua Tagovailoa after he suffered a serious hip injury.
He would throw for 1,503 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and three touchdowns.
After Tagovailoa was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, Mac Jones was named starter for the 2020 season. He would complete 311 passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions and led Alabama to its 18th national championship title.
Despite being his No. 1 pick, Jones told Fox News that he still believes that Lawrence will be the first pick.
“I don’t think any of the pro scouts or the teams have him rated like I do,” he said. “I think the media is driving that part of it. They’ve been saying he’s No.1 for 10 months [that] he will be the first pick.”
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) throws a pass during an NCAA college football game against Syracuse in Clemson, S.C., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Ken Ruinard/Pool Photo via AP)
The longtime college football coach made a similar claim about Mac Jones last month.
“If you really, really evaluate all the passes, I don’t think [Lawrence is] as efficient of a passer as Zach Wilson is,” Jones said.
“I don’t think Justin — I think you’re going to find the same thing when he gets to the NFL and has to run an NFL offense. You’re going to find maybe the same situation that (Dwayne) Haskins found himself in with [Washington]. It’s not an offense that he ran at Ohio State. It’s not an NFL-type approach and when he has to drop back and read coverage and go through his progressions off of what the coverage is, I think you’re going to find that he’s going to have to learn like a rookie does.”
In this Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, file photo, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. Ohio State hosts Nebraska on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Jones said that this year’s draft is rich with good quarterbacks, which will bode well for many NFL teams desperate to fill the role. He said that while Jones is, in his opinion, the most accurate passer, he sees him going somewhere in the middle of the first round.
“I do think if I was Jacksonville I would trade away that pick and pick up some more draft picks because there’s a lot of receivers, a lot of offensive linemen, other good players that you could be able to add by just trading out of the first pick situation and there’s enough quarterbacks that you could get one in the middle to late first round that I think are pretty good players.”
Jones recently served as head coach of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks. After the league folded in 2020, Jones joined CoachTube.com, an online platform offering instructional courses in a wide range of sports, where he teamed up with legendary coach Mouse Davis to teach a course on the famous “run and shoot” offense.
He began his NFL coaching career with the Houston Oilers and the Detroit Lions before serving as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 1994-96. He also had a short stint with the San Diego Chargers in 1998. He spent several years coaching college football at Hawaii and SMU before joining the Canadian Football League in 2017.