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Top Takeaways from Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye's Media Availability at the NFL Combine

The top quarterback prospects in this year's draft discussed their meetings with the Patriots and potentially playing in New England at the NFL Combine. 

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye address the media at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024.
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels and North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye address the media at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024.

Indianapolis, Ind. – The Patriots plans in the 2024 NFL Draft are coming into focus as New England is casting a wide net at the top of the quarterback class at the NFL Combine this week.

Head coach Jerod Mayo and director of scouting Eliot Wolf led interviews with quarterbacks Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, and Bo Nix in Indianapolis this week. The Pats haven't formally met with Michael Penix Jr. or Spencer Rattler in Indy, but they did get to know both QBs at the Senior Bowl in Mobile last month.

There are conflicting reports about how locked in the Patriots are into taking a quarterback with the third overall selection in April's draft. However, it would be surprising to see New England go in a different direction with their highest draft pick since selecting Drew Bledsoe first overall in the 1993 NFL Draft. With quarterbacks Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye, the feeling around the combine is that they'd both be worthy of the No. 3 pick in the draft. The question for the Patriots is more about who will be available when they're on the clock out of the tier-one QBs.

Despite growing concerns about his approach to the draft process, it's still the overwhelming consensus that the Bears will select USC quarterback Caleb Williams first overall. Then, it's up to the Commanders, who hired offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury to join new head coach Dan Quinn's staff, to choose between Daniels and Maye. Daniels would unlock all aspects of Kingsbury's Air Raid system with his dynamic mobility, but it's worth noting that Maye played in an Air Raid offense under North Carolina offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.

Due to their like-mindedness as offensive architects, Kingsbury has a relationship with Lindsey, so there is a deeper connection there to link Maye to Washington. Still, Daniels's consistency, cleaner mechanics, and draft-year film from the 2023 season have given him an edge over Maye. That would seemingly leave Maye for the Patriots.

We heard from the three prospective quarterbacks on Friday for the third overall pick. Here is what they said about their interviews with the Patriots and potentially playing in New England:

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels

Jayden Daniels

As the league continues to sort through this quarterback class, Daniels has emerged as the consensus QB2 behind Williams.

Although that doesn't mean Washington is set on Daniels, there isn't much concern about Daniels's tape. He's a dynamic runner and is coming into the league as a more advanced passer in many people's eyes than recent dual threats like Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields. The knock on Daniels is his size/frame. He's a slender guy, which you saw first-hand when he got to the podium inside the Indianapolis Convention Center. With how often he runs, Daniels does have some durability concerns.

The LSU quarterback has opted out of on-field work here at the combine, but the expectation is that he'll weigh in for teams with the rest of the group on Saturday morning. That number will be overanalyzed in the next few months while debating these three quarterbacks.

As for his impressions of his Patriots interview and potentially playing in Foxborough, Daniels, who had a calm, confident presence at the podium, said all the right things (obviously, nobody was expecting him to get up there and say anything bad about any team, but I digress). Daniels stood at the mic with a relaxed demeanor reminiscent of his poise in the pocket.

"It would be dope," Daniels said about potentially being drafted by the Patriots. "Obviously, growing up and seeing what Tom Brady did, six Super Bowls, that's tough to live up to. But that'd be dope to come in there, see the success that they've had, and help them get back on that track."

Daniels also noted that he had a "good" meeting with the Patriots brass, adding that he is familiar with head coach Jerod Mayo.

"It was good to be able to put a face to the name. I know the names of those guys, so to be able to sit down and have human contact with them, talk eye to eye with them, it was great," Daniels said.

The Patriots might not have an opportunity to select Daniels if the Commanders decide to take him before the Pats are on the clock, but he's a highly intriguing option for New England.

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye

Drake Maye

It wouldn't be draft season without one top quarterback prospects falling down the board from the consensus after the college football season.

When you discuss the North Carolina quarterback, there isn't a feeling that Maye's stock is cratering to the point where he won't be a top-five, or even higher, selection. However, there are concerns about how quickly Maye can immediately play at a high level in the NFL. Maye has made more big-time throws than any quarterback prospect over the last two seasons, but his game lacks consistency due to erratic footwork and pocket mechanics. He'll also need to tighten up his release, which is something the Patriots might emphasize when stacking their board.

Although he has warts like any prospect, Maye's arm talent and mobility match where the league is trending at the position, and the peak throws on his film are excellent. There's also a sense that some are overthinking it with Maye, similar to Justin Herbert, who had similar knocks.

During his press conference, Maye pointed to an interesting connection that he has with Tom Brady. Maye worked with assistant coach Clyde Christensen at North Carolina, who was with the Buccaneers when Brady was in Tampa Bay.

"Coach Christensen was my coach. He helped with the quarterbacks in North Carolina. He coached Tom back in Tampa. I got to watch some old film, some quarterback drills," Maye said. He also added that Christensen spoke about how Brady handled himself and cared for his body.

As things currently stand, the winds are blowing toward Maye being the available quarterback when the Patriots are picking on draft night.

Caleb Williams

Quickly, Williams is going about the process differently than many prospects by revealing his medicals on a team-by-team basis. Williams also isn't participating in drills in Indy.

I'll believe the Bears pass on Williams with the first overall pick when I see it. But, with growing speculation about how Williams is handling all this, it's at least including him here. When asked about his meeting with the Patriots, Williams had an interesting response about the size of the Pats contingent in the room compared to other teams.

"The Patriots were cool. The room wasn't packed. They asked me questions about life, about ball," Williams said.

It's notable that Williams said the Patriots had fewer people in the room. One thought that comes to mind is that Mayo and Wolf are trying to establish a circle of trust.

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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