New England Patriots

Ex-Patriots QB says team should keep Mac Jones, draft WR at No. 3

Long time New England backup Brian Hoyer believes Mac Jones still has more to offer.

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The New England Patriots sit at a crossroads ahead of one of the most important offseasons in team history.

With poor quarterback performance last season and the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft, the Patriots could look to land a franchise QB -- likely either Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels -- or run it back with who they have and take one of the highest-touted WR's in recent history, Marvin Harrison Jr.

Brian Hoyer, who spent eight years in New England as the team's backup, sat behind Mac Jones in the depth chart during the first two seasons of the young QB's career. He believes the Alabama product still has the skill to succeed and deserves another chance.

Hoyer joined NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Tuesday morning to discuss the Patriots' options ahead of the draft, and why he thinks that New England should take a game-changing wide receiver in Harrison at No. 3 and roll with Jones instead of taking a gamble and missing on another quarterback.

"I'm going to stick up for my guy Mac [Jones]," Hoyer said. "I know that he’s kinda got a raw deal the past couple of years."

Jones had a stellar start to his NFL career, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns to lead his team to an acceptable 10-7 record. The 2021 first-round pick's stats declined a bit in his second year, throwing for 2,997 yards and 14 touchdowns, but still had an OK year as the team finished 8-9.

Things fell apart for Jones this past season. He threw for just 2,120 yards and 10 touchdowns with 14 interceptions before getting benched in favor of Bailey Zappe, who didn't perform much better.

Amid multiple personnel issues, including a weakened offensive line and a below par receiving corps, many -- including his own teammates -- believe Jones was never at fault for the 4-13 record the Patriots put up last year.

"Being a quarterbacks guy myself and looking at a guy like Marvin Harrison Jr. -- I know what Mac’s capable of, I witnessed it his rookie year -- I don’t know if there’s been a receiver in recent times that’s been more prepared," Hoyer said, hinting at what he thinks the Patriots should do with their No. 3 pick.

While drafting a quarterback could give the fans a feeling of instant gratification with hopes of a better future, recent first-round QBs have been anything but a sure thing. The 2021 NFL Draft gives a comparable situation to this year's class -- three top QBs followed by generational talent skill position players. Trevor Lawrence was selected No. 1, followed by Zach Wilson and Trey Lance, who are both widely considered as busts. Kyle Pitts, Ja'Marr Chase, and Jaylen Waddle followed, respectively, and have been much more helpful to the teams that drafted them than Wilson or Lance.

Harrison, an Ohio State product, logged 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns on 67 receptions in his junior year, averaging 18.1 yards per reception. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Harrison boasts a comparable build to Mike Evans, a receiver who has logged 1,000-yard plus seasons for all 10 years of his career.

"He seems to be a bigger, faster version of his dad, which you’d take that any day," Hoyer added. 

Now in the Hall of Fame, Marvin Harrison Sr. played all 13 years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, securing eight Pro-Bowl nods and three All-Pro's, helping his team win a Super Bowl. If Jr. can be half the player his dad was, it may be worth giving Jones another shot under a new head coach and a revamped offense.

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