Next Pats Podcast

Why Drake Maye's size could give him an advantage with Patriots

Maye is a tough player with all the physical tools that scouts love.

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One attribute that quarterbacks need to be successful for the New England Patriots is an ability to play well in bad weather.

Because of geography, the Patriots typically play their most important games in rainy, windy and snowy conditions in December and January. One of the many reasons why Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history was his ability to perform at a high level in less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Brady was never the fastest quarterback and didn't have the strongest arm in the league. But he did have tremendous physical size and strength at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. Did that size, among other things, help him overcome poor weather conditions?

And if the Patriots are seriously considering a quarterback with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, should they put a large emphasis on physical tools when determining which player to select?

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Eric Eager of SumerSports joined Phil Perry on NBC Sports Boston's Next Pats Podcast live from Radio Row at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas this week. Eager thinks physical attributes are important for a QB in battling the bad weather that's often seen in New England. It's one of the reasons why he likes North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye as a fit for the Patriots early in the draft.

"When I look at quarterbacks sometimes, now I look at the physical traits (being important) in overcoming weather and injuries," Eager said. "Caleb Williams has a lot of great (talent) -- he has a rubbery arm and all this, but he's under 6 feet. I think (Jayden) Daniels is kind of thin, right? He kind of reminds me from a build standpoint of Jim McMahon, who was a winner but he never played 16 games for the Bears. He was never able to start a whole season after that Super Bowl win. I look at Drake Maye from a size perspective, I think size to me is the biggest thing for injuries, but also weather.

"And that's why Josh Allen -- I know the Bills haven't won the ultimate game yet, but it's why the Bills are in it every single year and are resilient to all the perturbations in football, which is weather, which is injuries -- the guy never misses a game. You never see that big of a drop in his play.

"It's because he has that physical gift. And it takes it back to the old school scouting where you do really want to have that big physical quarterback because when the injuries come, inevitably, and when the weather is bad, you need a guy who's going to be able to rip a ball through that tough weather and withstand injuries to his body."

Maye is listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. He showed his toughness in a 41-24 win over Pittsburgh back in September. The UNC quarterback took several enormous hits, including one that drew a roughing the passer penalty. Maye missed only a few snaps and ended up completing 22 of 30 pass attempts for 296 yards with three total touchdowns.

“Some quarterbacks, they could have stayed out the rest of the game,” UNC wide receiver J.J. Jones said after the game, per Jeremiah Holloway of 247Sports. “But how hard he competes and how tough he is as a player, he wanted to come back out there and play the rest of the game. So I’m always proud to be a teammate of Drake.”

Eager credits Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert's size (6-foot-6, 236 pounds) for his ability to play through injuries and help his team win games.

"Justin Herbert played all of the 2022 season with broken ribs. It was more legitimate than everybody was saying," Eager said. "They weren't the best team in the league, but he got them to 10-7 and a playoff berth playing through that because he's just more physically gifted.

"I guarantee you some of these less physically gifted quarterbacks who are accurate and all of this -- Joe Burrow is probably not playing as well as Justin Herbert with the same injury because he's simply not as big, fast and strong as Justin is."

There's obviously more to scouting quarterbacks than identifying the physical tools. The position requires the ability to be calm under pressure, someone who can improvise when the play or the pocket breaks down, as well as a high football IQ, etc. But it's definitely helpful to have more physical strength and size than many other players at the position, and there's no question that toughness is among the positives on Maye's scouting report.

Also in this episode:

  • Eric breaks down whether the Patriots should follow the Chiefs or 49ers’ rebuild model
  • Should the Patriots trade down from the No. 3 overall pick?
  • Would trading for Justin Fields be a smart move for the Pats?
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