Mac Jones won the New England Patriots starting quarterback job with his impressive development during camp and the preseason. The rookie's display of calm in the pocket, knowledge of the offense and ability to distribute allowed the Pats to hand him the Week 1 starting job confidently.
Perhaps no one saw Jones' evolution throughout training camp better than the defensive backs who faced him every day in practice. Their scouting report was glowing after the rookie was given the starting gig and Cam Newton was released.
"Mac Jones, he's going to be that guy," corner J.C. Jackson said, via MassLive. "I mean, he's a rookie, but he plays like a vet. The way he reads defenses, the way he steps up in the pocket, delivers the ball, he's improved since the first time I saw him."
Fellow corner Jalen Mills noted that Jones' ability to run the offense is ahead of where you see most rookies at this stage.
"I think the biggest thing is when you see the offense may have a play called, there may be a motion, or you see a guy flinch where it may be a blitz, and you see him go to the line of scrimmage and make a different type of check," Mills said. "That's what you want to see from not only a young guy but your quarterback in general.
"They have predicated call, and he sees that the defense is attacking them in a certain type of way, and he changes the whole offense to a play that helps him get in a better position."
The Patriots are betting Jones' veteran-like ability to run the offense will immediately upgrade a unit that struggled last season. The rookie allows the Pats to run the offense the way coordinator Josh McDaniels prefers. His poise in the pocket and ability to deliver while taking a hit were thoroughly impressive this preseason.
There will be bumps in the road -- like there are for every rookie at any position. However, the confidence with which Jones swiped the job and the mental acuity he displayed along the way shows the stage isn't too big for the Alabama product.