In my research of this class of draft-eligible quarterbacks, I’ve noticed a commonality in how analysts, insiders, thought-leaders, and draftniks discuss Mac Jones’ strengths.
And at its core, the conversation sounds something like this:
.@BaldyNFL:“(Mac Jones) processes information as fast as any quarterback since the No. 1 pick a year ago, Joe Burrow.”
“That’s his strength.”
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) April 20, 2021
It’s not just Baldy. ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area) calls Jones “an elite processor.” Eric Edholm (Yahoo! Sports) describes Jones as an “elite processor” despite possessing “merely average” physical tools. Danny Kelly (The Ringer) calls Jones a “quick processor” who compares the Alabama product to Philip Rivers for his ability to quickly go through his reads. This trio isn’t alone with this sentiment. And while others might parrot those talking points, I don’t think long-time insiders and analysts are cribbing each other’s analysis. Nevertheless, it feels as if there is a consensus on what Jones’ strengths are leading into this draft.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder why Trey Lance isn’t discussed in this manner.
• “Film junkie with high football IQ.”
• “Makes calls to set his own protections.”
• “Processes progressions very quickly and can work to his fourth read when protected.”
• “Rarely takes bait against zone defenders and safeties looking to pounce.”
If I didn’t know any better, this is what we would find in Jones’ profile. But listed under the “weaknesses” category on Jones’ NFL.com Draft profile is this:
• “Locks in on a target rather than honoring the progressions.”
• “Antsy when reads don’t quickly come together.”
• “Has trouble locating open targets in direction where heat is coming from.”
Well, that’s … something.
Seeing Jones, widely recognized as a superior processor, not viewed in the same light by Zierlein as others is interesting. Much like I don’t believe analysts are parroting talking points for the sake of it, I don’t believe Zierlein’s analysis is out there just to be contrarian. It’s all just curious to me. And it’s enough for me to bring it into the discussion as wee head into a draft where it sure feels like the Bears are set to draft a quarterback.
To be clear, I’m not writing this to make a grand proclamation — one way or another — about Jones or Lance. Both are uniquely talented ballplayers who deserve first-round consideration. But if Lance has these processing skills and superb athletic traits, then perhaps we should expand our horizons when it comes to figuring out ideal QB fits for the Bears. At minimum, we should talk about Lance more as if he does have these traits.