New England Patriots

CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 29: Mac Jones poses onstage after being selected 15th by the New England Patriots during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Patriots weren’t the only team who wanted Mac Jones at the 2021 draft.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters on Wednesday that his early impression of Jones is “really positive” and that the Patriots’ starting quarterback was one of the top prospects on the Saints’ own draft board.

“He was someone that we were really high on,” Payton said. “I think he processes information fast. At Alabama if you watch closely his tape, the ball comes out, decisions are made fast. I think he sees the field horizontally as well as vertically well. He has the arm to make the throws that you want.

“His decision-making and processing are where I felt were really strong suits with him and I think he’s handling it well. It’s not easy to all of a sudden come in and start week one as a rookie, but he’s a smart player.”

Back in May, Jeff Howe reported in The Athletic that after Jones started sliding in the draft, the Saints began calling teams about trading up from the 28th pick to get him. According to Howe, the best deal they could get in place was with the Arizona Cardinals at 16, one spot too late for Jones.

Ultimately, the Patriots let Jones come to them and the Saints went with Jameis Winston as their starter. Both teams are 1-1 with mixed results at the quarterback position so far.

In Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Saints at Gillette Stadium, the key could be which quarterback makes better decisions with pass-rushers in his face. It’s obvious that Payton would have liked to get Jones on his own team. We’ll see how he tries to stop him.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.