Could the Steelers trade up in the NFL Draft for Mac Jones?

Mac Jones, Steelers, NFL Draft, Saints
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is returning for the 2021 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for a franchise quarterback. Pittsburgh, of course, has options on how to get that QB, but why not go directly through the NFL Draft with a guy like Mac Jones?

With the talent available this year, most mock drafts you’ll read will have a quarterback projected in the first round for the Steelers.

Here’s why Mac Jones would be a great fit.

The traditional pocket passer with a 6-foot-3 and 215-pound frame is looking like he’ll be the fourth or fifth quarterback taken in this year’s draft. Where exactly he’ll be taken will depend on what teams make a move to trade up for the most important position in football.

Jones’ college stats speak for themselves, as he was the face of a newly explosive, offensive-minded Alabama team in 2020. His offense averaged a ridiculous 49.3 points per game en route to a National Championship victory.

When talking about going out on top, how does 36 for 45, 464 yards, and five touchdowns sound? Against one of the nation’s top defenses in Ohio State, on the biggest day of the College Football season.

Jones had only one full season as the full-time starter in Alabama, but not because of a lack of his own talent. He spent his first two seasons as a scout-team quarterback in the shadows of Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts.

Then he broke out like few ever have in the history of college football.

Through 13 games as a starter in 2020, Mac Jones set Alabama’s single-season passing record with 4,500 yards through the air. His 41 passing touchdowns were just two away from Tagovailoa’s single-season mark set in 2018, when Tua threw 43 in 15 games. How couldn’t the Steelers be intrigued by him?

Tony Tsoukalas from BamaInsider broke down Jones’ pair of national records he set in 2020 as well.

“His 77.4 percent completion rate tops the previous NCCA single-season best of 76.7 percent set by Texas’ Colt McCoy in 2008.” Tsoukalas writes.

“Meanwhile, Jones’ 203.06 passer efficiency rating passed the NCAA single-season record of 201.96 set by LSU’s Joe Burrow last year.”

The reason Jones won’t be the first or second quarterback taken is likely because of his lack of so-called super athleticism, which we’ve seen as a trend in top-5 quarterbacks taken in the past decade.

Just because he’s valued less, doesn’t mean he won’t be just as good, if not better than other first round quarterbacks when it comes to production. Not to mention, Mike Tomlin can plug Jones into his existing scheme as soon as possible.

This CBS Mock Draft has Pittsburgh trading up to the 13th pick to get Jones, which is just about as far as I see Jones falling in the draft.

The question is, does Pittsburgh take the risk of waiting in the NFL Draft, not jumping 11 spots, and seeing if he’ll still be available? That’s yet to be known. As I mentioned, the likelihood he’s even around past 15 is slim-to-none.

That being said, the Steelers may opt to wait another year, bolster up their offensive line, and add a complimentary running game that would help a young quarterback.

The Steelers will have to be all-in on Mac Jones to move up as far as it would take to get him. As we sit early on in the offseason, the Steelers look like just as viable an option of any to take the Heisman Trophy finalist in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.