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

Inside QB Drake Maye's Day at Patriots Rookie Minicamp 

We got our first glimpse at the Patriots draft class at Saturday's rookie minicamp practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10) and wide receiver Javon Baker (6).
Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10) and wide receiver Javon Baker (6).

The Patriots held their first open practice of the head coach Jerod Mayo era on Saturday, with rookie minicamp taking place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.

Although we are a ways away from competitive football, third-overall pick Drake Maye led New England's predominantly offensive draft class in a one-hour session that was a snapshot into the future in Foxborough.

The image that will be etched into this scribe's brain came at the very end of practice after Coach Mayo sent the rookies to run the conditioning hill. With Maye in the middle wearing a red non-contact No. 10 jersey, the Patriots first-round pick was flanked by second-round receiver Ja'Lynn Polk, fourth-round wideout Javon Baker, and seventh-round pick Jaheim Beill. Third-round selection Caedan Wallace and fourth-round guard Layden Robinson were also in the area.

At that moment, it felt like we were seeing the vision for de facto GM Eliot Wolf and Mayo, with the goal of this young nucleus growing together into a productive offense.

During his pre-practice media availability, Mayo spoke about the long days that Maye has been spending at the facility since arriving for rookie minicamp on Thursday. According to the Patriots rookie quarterback, he's all football well into the night as he tries to learn the playbook.

"As the quarterback, you have to know what everybody is doing on the field in the offense. It takes extra time, extra drawing up, extra questions," Maye told reporters after practice. "I'm just trying to get to know it myself, but also get to know the other guys around me. Get them with me."

Maye noted that the Patriots rookies are all staying in the same hotel for the time being, allowing the group to watch practice film and prepare for the next day's session.

"That the best thing about minicamp is getting around the guys for the first time. We are at the hotel together. Watching film, looking at the script for the next day together. We have nothing else to do up here, so why not do football," Maye said.

Along with getting in the playbook with his fellow rookies, Maye gave us a glimpse into who will be in his ear from a coaching perspective. The Pats quarterback spent most of the practice working closely with quarterbacks coach T.C. McCartney and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. Also in the vicinity was senior offensive assistant Ben McAdoo, and doing his best Ernie Adams impression with folded arms off to the side was assistant coach Evan Rothstein.

Mayo also offered insight into who would be primarily responsible for Maye's development, adding, "We do have a group of coaches that have quarterback backgrounds, but I would say overall it will be AVP as far as that lead guy."

Maye spoke from his perspective about his first exposure to the Patriots revamped offensive coaching staff, explaining what each coach brings to the table.

"All three of them have their own kind of niches. TC is the quarterbacks coach. He's in there talking to us in the meetings. Coach Van Pelt will chime in when he needs to, and Coach McAdoo is awesome. He's seen a lot of great quarterbacks do it. He's got old tapes of [Aaron] Rodgers and Eli Manning. They know a lot of football," Maye said.

On his new offensive coordinator, Maye said that Van Pelt's background as a former quarterback has been helpful in the early stages of his pro career.

"He understands it. He played the position and coached a lot of quarterbacks, so he understands it. That's the best thing you want to see from a coach. He knows it's going to be a growing side, a mental side to it. So he's understanding, but also, if you're not doing a great job, he's gonna tell you. It's been awesome so far," Maye added.

As for Saturday's practice performance, it would be unfair to judge based on routes against air and a three-quarters speed 7-on-7 period: we aren't playing anything close to live football to jump to any conclusions.

That said, Maye and his two rookie receivers came as advertised from an initial eye-test point of view. The rookie quarterback throws a catchable ball with zip and touch. The accuracy and timing were decent, but two throws, one into the wind, made receivers adjust to the ball (Polk showed off his magnet hands on one of them). He went 5-of-6 during 7-on-7s, with completions to Baker and Polk. But, again, it was not full speed.

Maye is a well-built, athletic guy. And it's not surprising that the coaching staff spent the majority of practice drilling fundamentals. Mainly, Maye and fellow rookie QB Joe Milton worked at length with the Pats coaches on drops from under center. After practice, Maye told reporters he's working on two new stances: starting with his left foot in front of his right in shotgun, an AVP staple, and under-center footwork, which is newer for all college QBs nowadays.

"I'm trying out two new stances that I'm getting used to, so just working on it, repping it, and I felt pretty good out there today," Maye said. "Footwork is huge. Get it and match it up with the routes. Just get coached on it and I want to get coached hard. Once you time it up, I think it comes easy. It comes with rhythm and matching up concepts and footwork."

New England's pair of rookie receivers also looked the part, and third-round draft choice Caedan Wallace was repping at left tackle, with Polk as the Z and Baker at the X. We didn't see many downfield throws, but Polk's smooth movement skills caught the eye. He's a natural, while Baker is a twitchy mover with a knack for changing gears mid-route.

Although we need to see if these two have the juice for vertical separation, Polk, in particular, was impressive with his fluid and controlled route-running. That's what you want to see in this setting: does it look like you know how to get open? So far, so good with these two.

"They look good. They made some plays in 7-on-7. I threw a couple behind them, and they still made the catches. I don't know if we have one on the ground yet, knock on wood," Maye said about Baker and Polk. "That's the goal to come here with the routes on air. Those guys are special players."

Polk also spoke following practice, offering his take on the Patriots top pick at quarterback.

"The guy can sling it, man. He's very confident. He's a leader, very vocal. Just trying to find ways to put his team in the best opportunity possible. So, just being around him, he's a great guy. I look forward to seeing how his future is here," Polk said about Maye.

Although you'd love to come away from Saturday's practice with real football opinions, rookie minicamp is for dipping the players' toes in the water. You can't overreact one way or another. Still, seeing this group on the practice field together was exciting.

As the initial eye test for the Patriots draft class, it's a plus that New England's rookies are embracing building an offensive core through the draft. Maye knows he's the guy. He's got that QB1 swagger, for sure. And he's already trying to bring Polk, Baker, and Bell along with him.

It is a new era, indeed, and hopefully a highly successful one. However, how successful it will be remains to be seen.

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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