What should Patriots fans expect from Drake Maye in 2024? 

2024 NFL Draft - Portraits
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

In a perfect world, Patriots fans shouldn't expect much from Drake Maye in 2024. Analysts, including Bill Belichick and reporters, seem convinced Maye is a project. He was compared to Jordan Love recently, but Love had a Super Bowl MVP to learn from.

Drafting a developmental quarterback third overall appears to be a strange decision, especially when they took another developmental quarterback in the sixth round. But maybe the team sees Maye as the Week 1 starter?  

The first thing to say is that the new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, has never been in this situation. During his first stint as a coordinator in Buffalo in 2009, he worked with veteran signal callers Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trent Edwards, and Brian Brohm.

Brohm made his first NFL start during that season. However, he was drafted by the Packers in 2008 and spent time behind Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn on the depth chart before being signed to their practice squad.

Van Pelt's next coordinator role didn’t come until 2020, when the Browns hired him. On that occasion, he worked with Baker Mayfield, who was 25 and had already started 29 games.  

Van Pelt’s “senior offensive assistant,” Ben McAdoo, has been credited, in some circles, with developing Eli Manning into a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. But that happened in 2010, and the game has changed considerably over the last 14 years.

McAdoo was the offensive coordinator for the Panthers in 2022, when they won seven games. Baker Mayfield was the starting quarterback in Carolina in 2022. It sure does look like this coaching team was built to coach Baker Mayfield. 

Back to Drake Maye, though. He won’t turn 22 until August and only started 30 games in college—one fewer than Mac Jones. During his time at UNC, Maye completed 64.9% of his passes and averaged 8.4 yards per attempt.

Do you know who completed 64.9% of his passes in the NFL last season? Mac Jones did. He only averaged 6.1 yards per attempt, though, and that was mainly because his offensive line didn’t give him enough time to throw it further.

Brock Purdy was the only NFL quarterback who averaged more than 8.4 yards per attempt in 2023. So, if the Patriots can transform their offensive line into the 49ers’ offensive line, Maye will be fine. 

The UNC alum threw 24 touchdown passes in 2023, the same number as Lamar Jackson and Matt Stafford managed in the NFL. But in 2022, Maye threw 38 scoring passes! Josh Downs caught 11 of those, but he was an Indianapolis Colt last year.  

That hints at why Maye is a riskier pick than some seem to think. There was quite a dramatic drop in Maye’s touchdowns and passing yardage. He threw for 713 fewer yards in 2023.

Maye’s passer rating dropped from 157.9 as a freshman to 149.0 as a junior. There’s not enough data to prove if that’s a blip or a trend, but if he does sit for a season, he may not hit the ground running in 2025. 

His athleticism is what makes people compare him to Josh Allen. In college, Maye ran the ball 302 times for 1,209 yards. Again, there was a drop-off from his first to his third year. In his second season at UNC, he racked up 698 yards, which fell to 449 yards in 2023. He scored two more touchdowns last season, though, nine.

There are, however, two key differences between Allen and Maye. Allen has played behind a dominant offensive line in Buffalo, weighs 14 lbs. less than Allen, and is an inch shorter. If defenders do get their hands on Allen, he’s tough to take down. They won’t have that problem with Maye. 

One athletic quarterback who knows a thing or two about stepping up from college football into the NFL is Chase Daniel. He firmly believes the Patriots and Maye will need to follow the Packers and Jordan Love’s example and sit, not start.

Love spent three years in Green Bay before he was installed as the starter. But the Packers drafted Love after winning 13 games and topping their division. Patriots fans wanted their team to draft a quarterback who will improve on the measly four wins they managed in 2023.

It looks like they’ll have to be patient, especially if he's starting. 

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