Waddle, Smith both pick Mac Jones over Tua Tagovailoa
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Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith both prefer Mac Jones to Tua Tagovailoa

Lack of mobility shouldn't limit Mac Jones in this year's NFL draft

Trey Sanders working to get healthy for 2021 season

Nick Saban isn’t one for comparisons, but in recent weeks a pair of his former players have been happy to oblige with reporters.

According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith was asked during January’s Senior Bowl which quarterback he preferred while at Alabama: Mac Jones or Tua Tagovailoa.

“The question was barely finished before Smith answered: Mac Jones,” Breer wrote. “He was bold and definitive about it, as I heard it. And of course, it’s logical to some degree.”

Wednesday, Alabama’s other future first-round receiver took his turn as Jaylen Waddle was asked the same question by NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano. Like Smith, Waddle sided with his most recent passer.

“I like Mac Jones,” Waddle said. “Both are great quarterbacks. I love Mac. He was a guy I came in with from Day 1. We were on the third team together and worked our way up.”

Neither Alabama receiver meant their comment as a slight at Tagovailoa. It’s also worth noting that the left-hander has already put pen to paper on a $30-million rookie contract while Jones is still posturing his way up this year’s draft boards. Smith and Waddle’s comments certainly did not hurt Jones’ pursuit of landing a lucrative deal of his own.

Regardless, the remarks have brought up a bit of a controversy among Crimson Tide fans.

Tagovailoa is Alabama’s career record holder in combined touchdowns (96) and passing touchdowns (87) while also holding the single-season marks in both categories with 48 combined touchdowns and 43 passing touchdowns both during the 2018 season.

Last year was Jones’ only full season as a starter, ruling him out of most career accolades at Alabama. However, he set the NCAA single-season records in completion percentage (77.4 percent) and quarterback efficiency rating (203.06) while setting the school’s single-season passing records with 4,500 yards and 4,514 combined yards.

Jones left Alabama with two national championship rings to Tagovailoa’s one. However, Jones didn’t see the field during his first title-winning season in 2017 when Tagovailoa provided the game-winning touchdown pass to Smith in the national championship game against Georgia.

While the debate between Alabama fans will likely continue over the next few weeks, you won’t catch either of the Tide’s former quarterbacks sparring off against each other. In fact, Tagovailoa made headlines earlier this week, comparing Jones to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.

“I would say he’s a sly kind of athletic person,” Tagovailoa said of Jones on a Yahoo Sports podcast. “He’s a more mobile Tom Brady. He’s very athletic, very smart too.”

Tagovailoa was drafted No. 5 overall by the Miami Dolphins last year, marking the first time an Alabama quarterback had been selected in the first round since Richard Todd went No. 6 overall to the New York Jets in the 1976 draft. While Jones hasn’t seen his draft stock rise quite that high this offseason, he has been included in the top 10 of a few mock drafts, including the latest one from Mel Kiper Jr. which has him going No. 8 overall to the Carolina Panthers.

“Mac Jones isn’t going to run,” Kiper said of Jones during a conference call earlier this week. “He’s not going to beat you with his legs like Joe Burrow can. But he can slip and slide and feel pressure in the pocket enough to buy time and keep his vision down the field and get the ball to a receiving entity.”

The debate of Jones versus Tagovailoa might soon be settled on the field during a Sunday this fall. Until then, it will continue to be a popular topic to debate.

Tua Tagovailoa, left, and Mac Jones shake hands after a play during the 2018 season. Photo | Getty Images
Tua Tagovailoa, left, and Mac Jones shake hands after a play during the 2018 season. Photo | Getty Images