Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones has gone from a third-string signal-caller to, potentially, the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Depending on who one asks and what mock draft they read, Jones might be headed to the San Francisco 49ers, who traded up for that third pick. Regardless of where Jones is drafted, it will be the next stop on a football journey that could have potentially ended following a dangerous off-field decision.
Alabama police arrested Mac Jones on a DUI charge in 2017
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Mac Jones spent the 2017 season backing up Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa in the Alabama Crimson Tide’s quarterback room.
Just because Jones didn’t play, however, didn’t mean that he was excused from following the rules. Alabama police arrested Jones on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, and charged him with DUI. According to AL.com, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office also charged Jones, 19 at the time, with an improper ID by a minor.
Police arrested Jones after he was involved in a car accident with another vehicle and then failed a field sobriety test. Alabama suspended Jones for the team’s next game, a 24-10 victory over LSU.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban expressed disappointment in Jones’ actions.
“It is a privilege to represent The University of Alabama, and there are certain responsibilities that go along with that privilege,” Saban said in a statement.
Those around Mac Jones believe the arrest changed his life
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Mac Jones turned a very low point into a life-changing moment, one that has him on the cusp of entering the NFL.
The NFL’s official website recently profiled Jones and spoke with him and those close to him. Mac Hereford, a former Alabama receiver, said he believed the DUI served as a “transitional event” for Jones.
“[Jones] didn’t go out anymore. He locked in and put his head down. He was balling before, but after that, it was more of an ‘I’m kicking ass and taking names’ kind of vibe.”
Jones admitted the DUI forced him to re-evaluate his priorities, and it drove him to devote all of his energy to football.
“On nights when people would be going out, I would go to the indoor [football facility], throw into a net, watch film by myself,” Jones said. “I’d usually close all the doors.”
Jones is one of the 2021 NFL draft’s top quarterback prospects
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The fall of 2021 will mark four years since Mac Jones, then a true freshman, found himself arrested for DUI.
When that anniversary hits, Jones will be a rookie in the NFL. The majority of mock drafts have Jones being selected among the first five players selected in the 2021 NFL draft.
Many of those mock drafts also have the San Francisco 49ers using the third overall selection on Jones. Spotrac estimates the total value of that pick to be $32.4 million.
Although the 49ers have publicly committed to Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, Jones has the arm strength, durability, and intelligence to thrive in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Shanahan, a proven quarterback guru who has mentored the likes of Matt Schaub and Kirk Cousins, is capable of helping Jones improve throughout his rookie year.
The 2021 NFL draft begins Thursday, April 29, and ends on Saturday, May 1.
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