Patriots Talk Podcast

Can Alex Van Pelt mold ‘ball of clay' Drake Maye into an elite QB?

The Patriots' new OC will play a huge role in Maye's development.

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Drake Maye comes to the New England Patriots with high expectations, and the hope that he'll succeed where 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones failed.

But Drake Maye's success or failure isn't all on Drake Maye.

Head coach Jerod Mayo confirmed Saturday at New England's rookie minicamp that offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will be the "lead guy" working with Maye this season. And while Van Pelt is in his first year with the Patriots, he has a wealth of experience working with a host of quarterbacks of varying skill levels, from Aaron Rodgers to Andy Dalton to Baker Mayfield to four different starters as the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator last season.

On a new episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, co-host Phil Perry relayed one of Van Pelt's strengths as a coach that could align with Maye's development as a quarterback.

🔊 Patriots Talk: Drake Maye is a ball of clay; is Alex Van Pelt an artist? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"He knows what he's doing," Perry said of Van Pelt. "And that's what everyone will tell you on the record. Off the record -- and I've said this since the day they hired him -- there are some questions about how he will coordinate the offense, especially on game day. What is he like as a play-caller? He's only done it very briefly in a couple of instances.

"... So those won't be answered until he actually does it. But when it comes to teaching a guy the fundamentals on how to play the position, you should feel pretty good about what the Patriots have in Alex Van Pelt if you're a Patriots fan."

Maye comes with plenty of raw talent and upside as a 6-foot-4, 225-pound 21-year-old with a rocket arm and above-average mobility. Some critics believe Maye's footwork and fundamentals could use some work, however -- which is where Van Pelt could come in.

Curran likened Maye to a "ball of clay," putting the onus on Van Pelt and his staff to mold the No. 3 overall pick into a future franchise quarterback. And if Perry's intel is any indication, Van Pelt is a good "artist" to have in the building when it comes to shaping a young QB.

"Whether it's Alex Van Pelt or (senior offensive assistant) Ben McAdoo, they both come from the same school of quarterback coaching, which is, fundamentals matter," Perry said. "They are going to be doing this 'Mike McCarthy quarterback school' thing with all of their quarterbacks. I'm sure the rookies in particular, they're going to get some really intensive footwork training.

"I think the throwing motion is going to get a tweak here or there for both quarterbacks (Maye and veteran Jacoby Brissett), but for Maye especially. These guys care about that stuff."

The long-term stakes are high for the Patriots, who already whiffed on one first-round QB in Jones and can't afford to repeat the same mistake. So, expect New England to take a deliberate approach to Maye's development, with Van Pelt placing an added emphasis on the young QB's fundamentals this summer.

Also in this episode:

  • Is Drake Maye the QB1?
  • Impressions of Maye at rookie camp
  • Reactions to the schedule so far
  • The love for rookie wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk
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