Washington Football Team should beware of Mac Jones

2021 NFL Mock Draft prospect Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports)
2021 NFL Mock Draft prospect Mac Jones #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports) /

The Washington Football Team became the fifth team since the shortened 1982 NFL Season to make the playoffs with a losing record. Washington narrowly won the NFC East with a record of 7-9.

Out of all the teams that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played in the playoffs, Washington put up the best fight to the eventual Super Bowl Champions. Going into the fourth quarter Washington only trailed Tampa Bay 18-16. That is extremely impressive considering they were starting their fourth-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke who was taking finals at Old Dominion only a few weeks before that game.

After last season, Washington will try to become the first team to win the NFC East in back-to-back seasons since the 2003-04 Philadelphia Eagles. It will not be so easy with Dak Prescott (likely) returning to the Cowboys and Saquon Barkley returning to the Giants. But it is entirely possible for Washington to repeat they just need to find an answer at quarterback.

Washington Commanders
Washington Commanders /

Washington Commanders

What held Washington back this past season was their instability at quarterback. Washington started Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke throughout the year. None of them were all that great.

Allen had the best touchdown to interception ratio throwing four touchdowns and one interception in four games. However, Allen went 1-3 as a starter before dislocating his ankle. Smith’s touchdown to interception ratio was worse than Allen’s. He only threw six touchdowns and had eight interceptions. But Smith did win five of his six games.

Former 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins was cut by Washington after a tough first two seasons with the team. It was the photos that emerged of Haskins breaking Covid-19 protocol that caused the team to make a decision on him before the season finished.

Now that the Haskins experiment is over, Washington needs to figure out its plan at quarterback for the future. The team extended Heinicke after their season ended, but he is nothing more than a backup. Allen is a free agent and may not be ready to play by the start of the regular season. Smith is under contract for one more season but the Comeback Player of the Year may not be able to start 16 games next season.

There are a couple of different ways that Washington could address the position. They could sign a veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Mitchell Trubisky or Jacoby Brissett. Washington could also trade for a veteran like Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Darnold, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew or Deshaun Watson.

If Washington wanted to address their need via the 2021 NFL Draft, they also have a few options. They could trade up in the first round to draft a prospect like Justin Fields or Trey Lance. Or Washington could address the need in the later rounds grabbing a Jamie Newman or Kyle Trask with a Day 2 pick. But one option they shouldn’t exercise is selecting Mac Jones with the 19th overall pick.

Mac Jones Prospect Bio

Mac Jones is a redshirt junior who played for the University of Alabama. Jones became the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide after Tua Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated hip with a posterior wall fracture. Before getting his first start against Arkansas he was coaching a sorority flag football team. Jones finished his redshirt sophomore season with 1,503 passing yards, 14 passing touchdowns and three interceptions.

Jones beat out former five-star prospect Bryce Young for the starting job for the 2020-21 season. He proved that he wasn’t like traditional Alabama quarterbacks of the past and that he is more comparable to Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts who started before him. Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Jones finished the season with multiple amazing achievements.

He helped lead Alabama to a National Championship. Jones won the Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Manning Award. Jones was also named a Consensus All-American and First Time All-SEC. He not only was nominated for the Heisman but he lost the award to his leading receiver, DeVonta Smith.

Why Washington should avoid taking Mac Jones at #19

If Mac Jones is available at 19th overall, Washington could take him to be their quarterback of the future. But that selection would be ill-advised for Washington for some of the same reasons why Dwayne Haskins did not work out for them.

Haskins appeal coming out in 2019 was his traits. He had a large arm and was accomplished during his one season as a starter at Ohio State. During that year Haskins broke multiple single-season records for Ohio State and the Big Ten. Haskins broke the Big Ten’s single-season passing yardage, touchdown and completion percentage records.

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After his first couple of seasons in the NFL, it was obvious that Haskins’ success had more to do with the simple offense he had at Ohio State and all of the great pieces he had around him. On offense, Haskins was surrounded by multiple starting-caliber players including  J.K. Dobbins, Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin.

Much like Haskins, Jones only started one full season at Alabama. Despite only starting one full season each of them had lots of success as full-time starters. Both are pure pocket-passers but are limited athletically. Their lack of experience and limited athleticism are major red flags for them as prospects.

Haskins was limited as a prospect because despite his success at Ohio State. He was not ready for the NFL nor did he have the athletic upside to bank on until he improved as a passer. Throw in the fact that he was drafted into a less than ideal situation in the first round of a weak quarterback class. Haskins was set up to fail from the start.

Jones was surrounded by great offensive pieces this past year. Between the two star receivers, a great running back and multiple NFL starting-caliber offensive linemen, Alabama could have six to seven players selected in the first two rounds of this year’s draft. He has shown more upside over a longer sample size than Haskins. Also, Jones is slightly more athletic than Haskins was coming out.

Washington has a few young playmakers in place in Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson and Logan Thomas. But lack of skill players with the potential to become stars is a concern considering what Jones had to work with at Alabama. It would be a downgrade for Jones to have to compete year one in the NFL with Washington’s weapons after playing with Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Najee Harris last season.

The biggest difference between the two is that Jones is a smarter quarterback than Haskins. Jones is a 4.0 student and it shows on the field in his decision making. An under-discussed red flag with Haskins was his ability to understand a playbook and to read the field. It was reported by FoxSports Doug Gottlieb that Washington’s coaches thought Haskins was dyslexic because of how bad he was at reading a playbook. Even though Haskins was not dyslexic, it does go to show how much he did struggle to understand Washington’s playbook and read the field.

Overall there are too many comparisons between Jones and Haskins for Washington to take a chance at him at No. 19. They need a quarterback who has proven he can play right away. Their next starting quarterback should be a reason why this team returns to the playoffs and advances past the first round.  Washington could even consider trading up a couple of spots to get ahead of the New England Patriots in order to get him.

Mac Jones’ perfect fit is a team that has all pieces in place to win but is missing the quarterback to put them over the edge. Washington is not that team. If the Pittsburgh Steelers were to move on from Ben Roethlisberger, Jones could be a fit there. There is an argument that Jones would be an upgrade over Roethlisberger in the short term and long term. Plus Jones’ rookie deal would be a lot cheaper than Roethlisberger’s $41 million price tag.

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Washington should go with a veteran quarterback who can ensure this team can return to the playoffs next season. Depending on the veteran that they bring in they could wait until next year to take a quarterback. They can instead use their first-round selection this year to address a bigger need where there will likely be better available prospects like left tackle or wide receiver.