Close your eyes and imagine a reality in which the NY Jets draft Mac Jones as No. 2 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Do you see his neatly combed hair and smug smile showing off his pearly whites? Do you see his name lit up in green and white as the Alabama standout strolls to the podium and firmly shakes Roger Goodell's hand?
"I'm going to New York!" the newly minted Jets player would shout, raising both arms in the air. Cue thunderous applause.
What a different season that would have been. Instead, the Jets chose Zach Wilson in the 2021 NFL Draft and haven't looked back.
Media outlets have, however, and The Draft Network recently released a 2021 re-draft in which New York took Mac Jones instead of Zach Wilson as the second overall pick.
The site claims this is how the first round should have played out back in April, with Trevor Lawrence still going first but Mac Jones coming in second.
"After leading the New England Patriots to a 10-7 record this fall—and a playoff berth—Jones showcased his accuracy all season long, along with the savvy to captain a group of grown men as a 23-year-old. While his numbers won’t jump off the page, sometimes it’s OK not to take the sexy pick that sells jerseys. "- The Draft Network
Jones hugely benefitted from the Patriots' offensive scheme as well as Bill Belichick's expertise, recording a 67.3 pass completion percentage that ranked ninth among all QBs. He finished as a fringe top-15 quarterback as a rookie, (PFF's QB11), and posted solid numbers across the board.
It's hard to say how Jones would have performed under Robert Saleh, but there's likely franchise potential in him yet.
NY Jets pick Mac Jones over Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall in 2021 re-draft
Picking Jones to go earlier in the draft makes sense, but given each rookie's 2021 performance, why does Lawrence get to keep his place while Wilson drops out of the top-10?
The site asserts that despite a three-win rookie campaign, Trevor Lawrence is still "the belle of the ball," and all Lawrence needs is a stronger supporting cast to unlock his unrivaled potential and "get Jacksonville back to relevancy."
Wilson, who goes No. 11 overall to the Chicago Bears, gets a much less inspiring performance review.
"While an ugly start to his season in New York had Jets faithful screaming ‘bust’ from the rooftops of MetLife, Wilson improved as the year wore on, providing a sign of what’s to come for the uber-talented quarterback."- The Draft Network
Lawrence likely put together a worse rookie year than Wilson, and though his ceiling may be set higher, both deserve to be treated as franchise-changing players.
With a league-high 17 interceptions against 12 touchdowns and a less than 60 percent pass completion rate, Lawrence's golden boy potential shouldn't totally eclipse his sub-par play last season.
Jones, Wilson, Justin Fields, and even Davis Mills arguably performed better than Lawrence, and other than Jones, those quarterbacks didn't have great "supporting casts" either.
If Lawrence's season can be asterisked with a footnote that says he needs more time to develop into an elite quarterback, Wilson gets an asterisk, too.
Don't just give one of them the benefit of the doubt.