Mel Kiper: Why Drake Maye would be a ‘home run’ swing for Pats

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How bold are the New England Patriots feeling entering the 2024 NFL Draft?

There’s a significant risk/reward factor for the Patriots as they ponder what to do with the No. 3 overall pick. If they’re set on taking a quarterback and USC’s Caleb Williams and LSU’s Jayden Daniels go off the board in the first two picks — a scenario that ESPN’s Adam Schefter sees playing out — the Patriots would have their choice of UNC’s Drake Maye or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy at No. 3.

According to NBC Sports Boston’s Michael Holley and several others, the Patriots are very high on McCarthy, but Maye arguably has a higher ceiling despite some noticeable flaws. So, how should New England look at the Maye vs. McCarthy debate as an organization?

ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. held a conference call with reporters Thursday to offer his insight on Maye, and what North Carolina product will need to succeed at the NFL level.

🔊 Next Pats: Drake Maye is the HOME RUN swing for the Patriots in the 2024 NFL Draft | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

“The concern is the late-season inaccuracy with some throws,” Kiper said of Maye, as heard on the Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry. “He’s only 21 years of age. He’s gonna keep getting better. But you’ve got to take the concerns you have and be able to coach through it.

“If you think you can coach through the concerns and you have the staff in place, and you’re going to have continuity with that staff — that’s one of the biggest things with these quarterbacks: the coordinator, coach, everything remains the same. It doesn’t change first year, second year, fourth year. If you have that happen, you’re doomed.

“So again, I think a lot of it goes beyond just the quarterback and what his strengths and weaknesses are. A lot of this is on the organization that gets him.”

Kiper might as well be describing the 2021-to-2023 Patriots, who selected Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick in 2021. Jones had three different offensive coordinators in his first three seasons — one of whom, Matt Patricia, had zero OC experience the NFL level — and that lack of continuity produced disastrous results.

The Patriots’ hope is that new head coach Jerod Mayo and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will create a much more stable environment for their young QB. And if they succeed, Kiper believes Maye could yield a bigger reward, even if he comes with a bit more risk than McCarthy.

“If you handle Maye properly, if you handle McCarthy properly, I think you’re gonna have a solid quarterback,” Kiper said. “I think the guy that has a chance to be great of those two is Maye.

“McCarthy could be solid, not a bust. So, I think you look at it a little differently. If you want to hit the home run, I think you take Drake Maye.”

Check out Kiper’s full comments on Maye in the video player above.

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds with a rocket arm and above-average mobility, Maye has all the physical tools to be an elite NFL quarterback. He might need some grooming, however, and perhaps might benefit from beginning his career as a backup to an experienced veteran.

So, the Patriots need to decide if they have the infrastructure to support a QB like Maye while avoiding another Mac Jones debacle — or go the “safer” route by either drafting McCarthy or trading down from No. 3.

Also in this episode:

  • Can Drake Maye handle the pressure of New England?
  • The latest news on J.J. McCarthy
  • Mel Kiper’s second round selection for the Patriots

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