Drake Maye Draft Profile
University of North Carolina quarterback, Drake Maye, is looked at as a top two quarterback in this year’s draft and is projected to be one of the first players selected in April. The redshirt sophomore is a Charlotte native and started two full seasons for the Tar-heels. In high school, he flipped his commitment from Alabama to North Carolina and is your prototypical “kid from the country”. In 2022, Maye won ACC player of the year and led his team to the Holiday Bowl. This past season, Maye was named Second Team All-ACC and led UNC to the Mayo Bowl, but won’t participate in order to prepare for the draft.
Standing at 6’4 230 lbs., Maye has the ideal body type for an NFL quarterback. He is a good athlete whose lateral speed is deceptive and allows him to break the pocket in order to make plays outside of its structure. Maye’s larger frame allows him to absorb hits and pick up yards after contact. In a condensed field, Maye is a threat to pull it on read-options and his body-type is ideal for quarterback sneaks. When it comes to throwing the rock, Maye has an excellent arm and has the arm arrogance that scouts want in their quarterbacks. It is one thing to have a big arm, it is another thing to have the confidence to let it rip. Whether it is a hole-shot outside of the numbers or a seam-ball up the gut of the defense— Maye is capable of making throws that defeat perfect coverage. The velocity he is capable of generating provides room for error if his timing off on a play. Maye’s physical abilities are why he has been touted highly for so long.
When it comes to Maye’s demeanor, he has excellent toughness. There are guys like Josh Allen and Will Levis who feed off of getting hit in the mouth. It is a little twisted, but easy to rally behind, and that is exactly what the North Carolina fanbase did. Coaches love his wiring, but it also causes them to hold their breath. His willingness to put his body on the line is why he’s capable of creating so much magic, but also puts his team in some ugly positions. He keeps plays alive but at times can be more reckless than prudent. There is no doubt he is exciting, but before one can be exciting they must execute the “boring” things properly.
Looking at the most recent “big” quarterbacks: Josh Allen, Trey Lance, Justin Herbert, Sam Darnold, even going back to guys like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Joe Flacco, and Carson Palmer; they’ve never had the quickest release, and neither does Maye. I believe it is because when someone is so big and strong, it is natural to rely on brute (arm) strength because that is where they have always had an advantage relative to their peers. Their strength is their “super power” so they tend to lean on it. One downside to the longer motion is that is results in a lot of passes getting batted down at the line of scrimmage. Defenders are keying his front shoulder and it gives defensive linemen chances to get their hands up. When it comes to Maye’s lower-body mechanics, he does a fantastic job at toting the line between having a wide base and over-striding. He has active feet that allow him to be reactive in the pocket. When having a long motion and a wider base it leaves greater room for error, but finding consistency in the set-up and delivery leads to consistency in performance.
When it comes to truly playing the position, I question his intentionality. There are times where he looks lost if his initial read isn’t there; it could be coaching, or it could just be him freezing up. There are also inconsistencies with his ball placement. While he is capable of making any throw, he is capable of also missing any throw. He is best outside of the numbers, but there aren’t a lot of layered passes over the middle of the field on his tape. His toughness and ability to perpetuate plays is exciting, but there are times where he lacks awareness in the pocket and takes negatives on crucial downs. His game against Clemson left a bad taste in my mouth— on the final drive he looked lazy in a moment where laser focus was required. With that being said, his games against Duke and Appalachian State showed that he is capable of putting his team on his back.
In the NFL, I believe Maye will be an above average quarterback but I think it is crucial he lands with a coach who can really “teach the game”. He would benefit from not having to playing right away. Sitting behind a veteran quarterback who can teach him how to identify pre-snap looks and read coverages post-snap would be beneficial. While he is a top five talent due to his size and natural arm talent, I believe his transition from college to the NFL will take some time. From a physical standpoint, he reminds me a lot of Carson Wentz. An above average athlete with excellent toughness and arm strength, but can put his team in unfavorable positions. Maye's delivery takes a little longer than Wentz’s and I think Wentz is more accurate when throwing without a base, but both quarterbacks are capable of making tight window throws, changing their arm angles, and bringing some magic to their offense. I believe Maye would fit best in a spread offense that attacks defenses outside of the numbers and on the third level. Offenses can use his toughness to their advantage by creating a system that requires him to stand in the pocket with longer-developing concepts. Maye does have a high ceiling and would benefit from a situation where he can develop mentally and learn to play within structure before getting thrusted into action.
Natural Arm Talent: 10.66/12 (Excellent)
Accuracy: 5.55/10 (Above Average)
Natural Leadership: 6.66/10 (Good)
Decision Making + Eyes + Anticipation: 4.44/10 (Average)
Pocket Presence: 4.44/8 (Above Average)
Athleticism + Mobility: 5.55/8 (Good)
Deep Ball: 4.67/6 (Very Good)
Feet + Base: 4/6 (Good)
Throwing Motion: 3.33/6 (Above Average)
Toughness + Fearlessness: 5.33/6 (Excellent)
Final Rating: 67 -- Above Average NFL QB
Pro Comparison: Carson Wentz
Draft Projection: Top 5 Pick
Draft Grade: Second Round Pick
Scheme Fits: Spread offense