New England Patriots

James White: Patriots shouldn't start Drake Maye if he's not ready

"If those guys aren't ready to play, do not throw them into the fire."

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After the New England Patriots selected North Carolina's Drake Maye with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, it didn't take long for discussion to begin on whether he'd be the starting quarterback right away. While some believe the rookie should have the starting job, others -- like former Patriots running back James White -- believe it's best to let him sit on the sidelines at first.

"I'm always a fan of that, letting these guys sit," White told Albert Breer, Tom Curran, and Phil Perry on NBC Sports Boston's On The Clock Draft Special on Friday, as seen in the video above. "If they earn the starting job right away then so be it, but if those guys aren't ready to play, do not throw them into the fire."

Earlier in the offseason, the Patriots signed their own former draft pick in Jacoby Brissett, an eight-year veteran with 79 regular season games under his belt, to serve as a "bridge" quarterback to mentor whichever QB they drafted, which turned out to be Maye.

"Let [Maye] develop, let him learn, let him practice hard, let him try and shred up the first-team defense in practice," White said of Maye, noting that the QB should gain the respect of his teammates rather than just being handed the starting job.

On Thursday night during The Pat McAfee Show's Draft special, former Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of Brissett as a mentor, while also suggesting that Maye starting the season on the sidelines could be beneficial for the 21-year-old signal-caller so he can work on improving his game, such as his footwork.

"There's a lot to learn with the QB position," White added. "There's a lot of defenses that he's going to see that he's never seen before, and when you throw a guy out there too fast, that can hurt their development."

Mac Jones is a prime example. After the Patriots selected Jones with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Alabama product beat out team veteran Cam Newton for the starting job in Week 1. Although he had a solid rookie season earning a Pro Bowl nod, the Jacksonville native soon fell apart, seeing declines in all statistical categories -- and even more importantly in his confidence. The QB never recovered and was sent to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth-round draft pick.

"We've seen it time and time again with No. 1 overall picks, top-five picks, where they are thrown out there year one and never really recover from it," White said of rushing rookie quarterbacks to the field.

With the Patriots still a long way away from being a Super Bowl contender, the need to rush Maye on to the field just isn't there. New England has seen a large roster turnover since the end of last season's 4-13 campaign -- so it might be wise to allow the rest of the roster to come together before putting unneeded pressure on Maye and trust in Brissett to be a mentor.

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