New England Patriots

Perry, Hoyer analyze Drake Maye's skill set in pre-draft film review

Here's what ex-Patriots QB Brian Hoyer thinks of Maye after watching the UNC product's film.

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The 2024 NFL Draft is less than 24 hours away, and this year's class is all about the quarterbacks.

One of the top quarterbacks available is Drake Maye. The former UNC star has been the second- or third-ranked QB in the 2024 class for at least a year now. It would be pretty surprising, based on all expert mock drafts, if he did not go in the top three of the first round Thursday night.

NBC Sports Boston recently broke down film of Maye, with Tom E. Curran, Phil Perry and former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer analyzing the UNC quarterback's skill set, which you can watch in the video player above.

One thing that really stood out to Hoyer was Maye's size and athleticism. Maye is listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, but also runs pretty well.

"I think there's obviously going to be comparisons to big athletic guys like Josh Allen -- big, tall, strong, can run, athletic, also a big arm," Hoyer explained. "So having watched him in preparation for this, you see some comparisons to that."

The Patriots' deep passing game was a struggle in 2023. Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe were not able to connect on enough plays beyond 20 yards. This lack of explosiveness was among the reasons why New England ranked tied for last in scoring at 13.8 points per game. Some of that is due to the absence of a true No. 1 wide receiver, but you need a strong, accurate quarterback to make those kinds of throws. Maye projects to be that guy in the pro game.

"He has been so effective with the deep ball. These throws that go over 20 yards in the air, he has been arguably the best in the country the last two years," Perry said. "Is there anything, Brian, that stands out to you in terms of the footwork?

"We don't want to start critiquing these guys right off the top, but that has been the big critique when it comes to Maye's game is, 'You've got to clean up that footwork.' Is that a huge issue for you going from the college level to the throw level?"

"I actually think it's the easiest thing to fix," Hoyer responded. "Coming in, I learned so much from watching Tom (Brady) and his footwork, and obviously Bill O'Brien and his coaching. The footwork, to me, would be the least of the concerns."

"... The first thing that stands out to me is his recognition of coverage. We call this blitz zero. There are five defensive backs lined up across. It's an empty formation. There's only five linemen to block and they're blitzing six guys. So what's more impressive than this throw, and it's not hard to tell, but he sees the blitz and knows exactly where the weak point in the protection is, he knows a guy is going to come free from the left side.

"He knows what matchups he has -- it's man coverage. I actually think this is good footwork. He drifts a little to the right where the protection is a little more firm, lofts a great pass -- we call this an inside slot fade -- right over the guy's shoulder. You couldn't really ask for a better play from the quarterback right there."

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What would be a high-end comp for Maye? In other words, what is, or close to, the best-case scenario for his development?

Curran: "That's going to be a faster, less powerful arm, a smidge smaller Drew Bledsoe."

Hoyer: "For me, he's not going to run as well as Josh Allen, and he's not as big or as strong, but there's definitely some comparisons, and if he has time to develop, I think that would be the best-case scenario."

Perry: "I would go Justin Herbert. He's not as tall as Herbert, but I think his arm is a little less than Allen's and he's not quite as fast as Allen. I think that maybe puts him in a little closer ballpark to Herbert."

Taking Maye at No. 3 would be a good outcome for the Patriots in the first round Thursday. But their decision largely will come down to what the Washington Commanders do in front of them at No. 2. The Commanders also need a quarterback.

Check out Curran, Perry and Hoyer's full breakdown of Maye below.

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