While Mac Jones is beginning to inspire more and more confidence in New England he can be the next high-level quarterback to lead the Patriots, he’s getting equal love from coaches around the NFL. With the Patriots and Carolina Panthers set to play each other Sunday in Carolina, Panthers coach Matt Rhule had glowing remarks for the rookie quarterback.

Before Jones was drafted 15th overall by the Patriots in the 2021 NFL Draft, he was coached up by Rhule and his Carolina staff at the Senior Bowl. There, the former Baylor coach got an up-close look at the Alabama product. Speaking with New England-based reporters on a conference call Thursday, Rhule shared some insight into what he saw.

“I think after you spent about 5 or 10 minutes with him, (you knew),” Rhule said, per NESN’s Zack Cox. “He’s just got juice. … Spending time with him, you could tell he loves football. He just won the national championship game and he’s out there practicing with us.

“You could see how intelligent he was the first day. We put a lot of install in, a lot of words in, just to see if they could recite it, and you could see pretty quickly he had a feel for the game. He had some moxie, and he was really, really intelligent and accurate and could throw the deep ball at a high level.”

Rhule went on to say he was impressed with Jones’ ability to digest and interpret a breadth of concepts on the fly. The coach said his Baylor staff at one point tried to flip Jones from a commitment to the Tide during his recruitment process, but Jones was already sold on playing for Alabama coach Nick Saban and proving himself there.

“To me, no matter where Mac ended up, I knew he was going to be a longtime pro because he just has all the right qualities and all the right things that are essential to being a great player,” Rhule said. “That was evident to me from the very beginning.”

In his final year at the college level, Jones threw for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions. His 77.4% completion rate led all qualified passers in the country in 2020. As a rookie for the Patriots this season, Jones has started all 8 games. He has 1,996 yards and 9 touchdowns against 6 interceptions with a 68.1% completion rate.