Patriots Not Sold On QB Drake Maye?

Drake Maye hovered as either this draft’s top non-Caleb Williams QB option for months, predictably forgoing his final two college seasons to prepare for the NFL. Despite not working out at the Combine, the North Carolina prospect has seen his stock encounter some turbulence.

By most accounts, Jayden Daniels — who was not viewed as a top-tier prospect going into his final college season — has leapfrogged Maye as the draft’s second-best quarterback. With three QB-needy teams atop the draft, Maye figures to still be in good standing with regards to being an early draftee. It might take a trade-up for that to happen, however.

Several Patriots scouts are not high on Maye, according to’s Tony Pauline, who adds a source at the Combine informed him the team would trade back if Daniels did not make it past Washington at No. 2. Maye rocketed onto the first-round radar after a breakthrough freshman season, but his sophomore numbers represented a step back. This was not enough to drop Maye’s stock much, however, as he exited the Tar Heels’ season as one of this draft class’ top prospects.

We are not yet in full-on draft-rumor season, but that point is approaching. This is far from a surefire indication the Patriots will pass on Maye at 3, but some doubt does seem to be creeping in here. NBC Sports’ Chris Simms, who has been known to go against the grain when assessing prospects, ranked Maye as this class’ sixth-best QB prospect this week. Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest mock has Maye going to New England at 3, while Daniel Jeremiah’s latest big board has Maye at No. 5 overall.

Multiple reports out of Foxborough recently pegged the Patriots as most likely to address their quarterback need in the draft. It would be a daring move for the team to trade out of this draft’s prime QB real estate, but other teams are looking into moving up. The Giants and Raiders have made the most noise about moving up, though the Vikings and Broncos have also been loosely placed on the radar to do so. The Patriots could collect a big haul by moving down, but they would obviously be taking a risk if they exit Round 1 without a QB prospect.

Known for trade-down maneuvers under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have since given the keys to Eliot Wolf, who has switched up the team’s prospect grading system. But Wolf comes from a Packers organization famous for QB prioritization. Wolf was early in his Green Bay front office days when the team snagged Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 first round, despite Brett Favre ultimately not being ready to retire for a while.

The Pats do have plenty of needs, most of them on offense, going into the offseason. They have also been tied to Baker Mayfield, with a number of ties — from Wolf to Alex Van Pelt to Ben McAdoo to Alonzo Highsmith — to the current Buccaneers passer. Paying big money for Mayfield — should he reach the legal tampering period unsigned — would be an unusual move for a team in the Pats’ position. But Maye’s stock will be worth monitoring in the coming weeks.

View Comments (11)