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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu May 23 - 02:00 PM | Tue May 28 - 11:55 AM

Analysis: New Regime Makes its Mark with Maye

In the first draft of the new regime, the Patriots were happy to sit tight and grab Drake Maye with the third overall pick.

Patriots 2024 first round draft pick, UNC quarterback Drake Maye
Patriots 2024 first round draft pick, UNC quarterback Drake Maye

Sometimes it's best to just play checkers.

Faced with the option of trying to move down the board to stockpile picks and risk losing out on a quarterback, Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf opted for the simpler path. After USC's Caleb Williams and LSU's Jayden Daniels went 1-2 to Chicago and Washington, respectively, the Patriots were all too happy to call North Carolina's Drake Maye's name, making him the highest drafted quarterback for the team since Drew Bledsoe went No. 1 overall back in 1993.

There was plenty of discussion about the possibility of trading the pick rather than settling for the third quarterback available, but in the end that never seemed to be a serious consideration. That may be due in part to Wolf and Mayo not being blown away by any offers, but it's also possible that Maye was their preferred option of the quarterbacks after Williams.

"We actually thought we did a pretty good job of keeping it under wraps because we've known Drake was the guy for a while," Wolf said in an interview on Patriots Unfiltered's draft show.

"We had some conversations with other teams, but ultimately, we felt like Drake was the player that we wanted and we had the opportunity to get him," Wolf added when speaking with the media.

If the 6-4, 223-pound Maye was indeed the preferred choice, it's easy to understand why. His blend of size, athleticism and skill compares favorably to Justin Herbert and Josh Allen. For the past two seasons in Chapel Hill, Maye basically carried the offense with his running and passing ability, compiling more total yards during those two seasons than any other player in the nation at the FBS level.

But if he is to reach his full potential, like Allen and Herbert he will need to refine his game in the NFL. Too often in college he left the simple throws on the field, occasionally losing his accuracy and failing to remain in the pocket even when the protection was up to speed. This caused him to run into trouble at times, and that's when his mistakes took over.

However, many of those same traits were attached to Allen when he left Wyoming and with solid coaching from Brian Daboll in Buffalo, he eventually improved to the point where he is routinely among a small handful of MVP candidates each season.

Just how similar are the skill sets of Allen and Maye? Check out this snippet from Allen's draft profile from Dane Brugler, author of the famous "Beast" that is considered the gold standard when it comes to draft publications:

Strengths

Elite physical characteristics. Tall, athletic frame. Loose arm to deliver crisp throws with unforced velocity. Fluid athlete for size. Comfortable throwing from all platforms or on the move.

Weaknesses

Sloppy mechanics, especially lower half, leading to accuracy problems. Inconsistent timing and efficiency from snap to delivery. Holds the ball too long. Give defenders too much of a heads up that the throw is coming, forcing bad balls – throws too many passes to the other team.

Now compare that to Brugler's assessment of Maye:

Strengths

Built well with prototypical size. Has fluid, explosive release with above-average velocity to drive the ball and make every throw on the field. Quick feet when reacting to pocket pressure. Agile mover to evade rushers and one of the better third-down scramblers in recent years.

Weaknesses

Plays with reckless tendencies and still learning the throws he shouldn't make. Generally accurate but arm gets juices up and misses some layups. Needs to reel back some bad habits in pocket like bouncing and falling away from throws. Needs to take better care of the ball. Panic decisions when getting sacked.

Brugler compared Allen to Tennessee's Jake Locker while he offered Herbert as a comp for Maye. But in each case there were a lot of similar strengths and weaknesses. It will be up to Maye and his coaches to make sure he veers closer to Herbert's path than Locker's.

Maye will have the opportunity to develop under the watchful eye of offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and special assistant Ben McAdoo in Foxborough. He will need work on his mechanics and decision-making, but at his best he's capable of carrying the load. His arm strength will allow him to easily perform even in the at-times harsh weather conditions in New England, and his power running will endear him to the Foxborough faithful.

Now that the pick has been made the attention will quickly turn to his playing time. Some have watched the success of players like Jordan Love and Patrick Mahomes, who sat and waited before jumping into the starting lineup, and believe that's the wisest course of action when it comes to quarterback development.

A collection of photos of North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye at the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit after being selected by New England with the 3rd overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft.

But there are also dozens of examples of players who started immediately and enjoyed success, most recently last season with Houston's C.J. Stroud, so there is no right or wrong way to handle young quarterbacks. Veteran Jacoby Brissett, as well as third-year backup Bailey Zappe, will likely compete with Maye for the starting job during training camp while Mayo and his staff decide on the proper course of action.

"They try to put time tables on it, but you just never know when that time is going to be," Mayo said. "I think it's hard to really put a timeline on when he will be ready. I don't want you guys to forget about the quarterbacks that we have on our roster, and it's about competing and it's about going out there every day striving to get better."

It may be a while before we learn one way or another, but at least there is a plan in place for the future.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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