In our Scouting Reports, we will give you a quick debrief to get you the information you need to know. We go a step further, providing an in-depth review showing off examples of what we do and don’t like. We’ve included a date from the initial scouting report. Updated notes may get added and dated over the course of the the year. With that, welcome to the Drake Maye scouting report!
If you’d like to see more, below are all the completed scouting reports for this season:
|Michael Penix Jr.
Drake Maye was a 4-star recruit and the ninth ranked Quarterback prospect according to 24/7, Rivals, and ESPN Recruiting. Today, many are looking at Maye as the only competition for Caleb Williams in being the first overall draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. What caused this massive jump? Let’s take a look!
Date: 04.18.2023 | Updates: 09.24.2023
Details: Drake Maye | QB | North Carolina #10
DOB: 08.30.2002 | 21 years old
H/W: 6’ 4″ | 230 lbs
NFL Draft Projection:
Top 5 Pick – Before we begin the 2023-2024 season, Drake Maye and Caleb Williams are both vying to be the top quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft Class. Maye has size, a booming arm, and decent wheels to boot. Inside the pocket he shows outstanding poise, processing, and ball placement. He’s already earned the distinction of an early draft pick on physical gifts and potential alone, though he does need to work the pocket better and get more consistent throwing off-script. With another year at school to refine these flaws, he could be one of the better quarterbacks taken in recent years, though I don’t see him outshining Caleb.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – 1QB:
Late 1st to Early 2nd Round Pick – Normally in 1QB the top quarterbacks go late first, early second. The ’24 class already has a number of solid names drawing interest at the skill positions, so that seems a fair assessment for Maye as well.
Dynasty Rookie Draft Projection – Superflex/2QB:
Top 5 Pick – In SF/2QB, the quarterback is king. As such, Maye rises to a top 5 pick. He has the potential to be 1.01 and likely won’t likely fall below 1.03.
At the time of this writing, Drake Maye is comfortably seated as the QB2 for the 2024 NFL Draft, just behind Caleb Williams.
In 2022, Maye’s first year starting, he produced 45 total touchdowns (38 passing, 7 rushing) to only 12 turnovers (7 interceptions, 5 fumbles lost). At 20 years old, this earned Maye the FWAA National Freshman of the Year award, as well as ACC Player of the Year.
Maye’s physical gifts are strong. Standing at 6’4″ and listed at a solid 230lbs, Maye has the prototypical size many like to see in their quarterbacks, and seemingly with room to fill out still.
He’s not going to break Anthony Richardson‘s combine performance, but solid athletic measurables are easily within reach and would be suggestive of the generally positive athletic profile which can be seen during games. Maye’s athleticism, field vision, and running instincts are all good.
Additionally, his arm is one of the more talented in college football. Strong enough to make any throw, controlled enough to feather it to any level of the field, and accurate enough to complete it.
More than just physical gifts, Maye has already shown intelligence, poise under pressure, navigation in the pocket, care for the football, and an understanding of defenses – and how to take advantage of them.
Along with the many positives, there are areas where Maye can improve. His pocket presence is only OK, and he has a propensity of stepping back instead of stepping into the pocket. He will also occasionally determine where to throw pre-snap, regardless of how the play actually unfolds.
As with any young quarterback, he makes the occasional poor decision. These tend to be the reasons for his turnovers. And once or twice per game, he’ll get bodies in his face and throw up some pretty ugly mis-fires.
When he’s comfortable in the pocket though, Maye is outstanding. He’s very good at getting through his reads, processing the field quickly when needed. He’s best when identifying the defense pre-snap and can play in the designed rhythm.
However, there are times when Maye has a window to throw as part of the designed play, but looks it off, hiccups, or pauses for just a half-tick resulting in missed opportunities.
In general this is fine for college football. In the NFL, throwing windows won’t be open that extra half-tick, and you can’t afford to look off a possible decent pickup. I expect this will improve with another year under his belt.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a step down from Maye’s production this year. He lost his top two receivers, Josh Downs and Antoine Green, to the NFL Draft. A couple of his current top targets, JJ Jones (WR #5) and Kobe Paysour (WR #8) showed far too many drops. It’s very possible, even likely, that we will see a production drop similar to Sam Howell’s final year.
If the receiving core can hold their end, and Maye can improve his flaws, he has the tools to challenge for the number 1 overall pick.
Update – 09.24.2023:
I had an opportunity to watch some of the UNC vs SC game, and Maye looked impressive. I haven’t done a game review yet, but I distinctly remember noting a few drops (one turned into an INT), a few huge 3rd down pickups, improved pocket movement, and a couple big touchdowns.
The only poor decision I noted was the first interception which was indeed a very poor decision. Overall, this was a great start for Maye.
Watching Maye drive down the field and play in rhythm is like magic. He identifies the defense pre-snap, confirms at the snap, and knows exactly who to hit by the top of his drop. He’s happy to take the easy 5-15 yards, and when doing so he looks unstoppable.
When watching the video below, note how simple these throws are. With good pre-snap reads, Maye has identified the defense and narrowed it down to reading one key by the snap. He checks that key off the snap – typically a backer or safety – and knows immediately who will be open.
Also take note of the timing. Depending on the route he throws, he’s either hitting his back foot and firing, or adding a hitch and driving it in. When in rhythm, Maye is in command and makes the game look easy.
As the defense adjusts, looking to take away these quick plays, they open the door to deep ball opportunities. Maye has shown time and again that he has the arm to attack downfield. Further, he can throw with touch and accuracy, from the pocket or on the move.
Below we see Maye’s arm talent on balls to the deep third. From 30 yard ropes thrown on the move, to 60 yard bombs thrown opposite hash; Maye has a cannon for an arm.
Another reason Maye is special is shown repeatedly in the below clip: 3rd and 24 – dropping dimes for a (should-be) conversion. 4th and 11 – firing a (should-be) touchdown on the move. 4th and 21 – taking advantage of a defensive blunder with a throw 60 yards downfield.
These are truly special plays in near impossible situations. Unfortunately for Maye and UNC, the first two examples – while outstanding throws – were both dropped.
For a lot of young quarterbacks, especially those with big arms, hitting the 2nd level, intermediate throws are the hardest. They can’t throw a heater with defenders clogging the throwing lane. Some guys even look off these throws, incapable of throwing with touch (looking at you Will Levis).
Fortunately, Maye doesn’t have that problem.
Maye’s arm talent extends beyond big, over the top throws. He’s an outstanding passer to the intermediate level. Time and again he’s shown he can feather it behind first level defenders, dropping it under the deep safeties.
Each of the below throws (and some of the above) showcase Maye’s ability to feather, layer, and throw with touch.
Add ball placement to his growing list of positive traits.
While Maye is certainly not perfect – as we’ll see shortly – I noted at least 18 throws in five games as one of the following: tight window, pinpoint placement, great leading throw, dime, amazing accuracy, or similar.
On one throw in the below clip, I point out that one of these windows is directly created through Maye’s insight and intelligence.
2nd & 7 against Clemson, Maye wants to convert and get into scoring distance. His best shot to convert is the hook/curl run by Antoine Green (WR #3 – 7th round pick by Detroit), but Clemson has hook zones dropping right in the throwing lane.
Maye, smartly, looks and pumps to his running back in the flat. This moves Barrett Carter (LB #0 – likely day 2 pick in ’24) just enough to create a clear throwing lane. Heady, savvy, veteran move to make a play.
Ignore the mechanics (especially some of the footwork) and just take note of how truly NFL caliber many of these throws are.
Also, even more drops. Imagine his production if his receivers helped him out more.
It’s time we get into some of Maye’s flaws. As a young quarterback, he makes a poor decision or two each game. One such example is in the first clip of the below video.
Miami has their backs against the goal line. With everything condensed, defenses have a serious advantage. Blitzing is more common, zone has less open space, and man has fewer options to cover. Bracketing, too, can be extremely effective from both man and zone.
Maye sees the bracket on the number 3 receiver. Assuming they’re going to carry him, he heaves a throw right into the defender who is settling in his zone. It’s an easy interception (dropped) thanks to a poor read.
In the second clip, we see a different issue; staring down his target. I saw multiple occasions where Maye locked eyes on his intended target. This one was certainly the worst, as it allowed the middle-field defender (on the far hash) get across the field to the opposite sideline and make a pick. Throwing the ball five yards too far inside certainly didn’t help either.
He outright misses or forgets a DB trailing the motion receiver in the third clip. This lack of awareness is rare, but caused another interception here.
Finally, as with any quarterback he will occasionally place the ball poorly. We see that in the fourth clip too.
Maye places the ball up the field and inside of the receiver; a more dangerous throw than needed. We see the receiver is looking for it to the outside, an easy and safe throw and catch. As it is, the throw is ~5 yards off and causes the receiver to get lit up.
While these issues are scattered throughout the games I watched, they are rare for a quarterback Maye’s age.
Maye typically does a great job reading the defense. Whether he’s spotting defensive rotation, keying on a mismatch, catching a breakdown in coverage, or just scanning through his reads, post-snap is natural and looks like a breeze to him.
There are some instances where it’s genuinely scary how quickly he runs through his reads. See the next clip for just one example.
Maye looks at the three route combo to his left and immediately sees the coverage has it swallowed up…so he hits his fourth and fifth routes less than two seconds from the snap. He’s read all five routes and decided to run in under 3.5 seconds.
There are some cases where a quarterback processing too quickly is actually an issue. The processing speed itself isn’t the issue, rather, the quarterback isn’t giving the route an opportunity to get open.
That isn’t the case here, and – as far as I’ve seen – isn’t an issue for Maye.
As previously noted, Maye could improve the consistency of his footwork in the pocket. Additionally, he will sometimes drift backwards and make the play more difficult. Drifting back allows for an easier pass rush angle for edge defenders, and in these cases Maye gets stuck throwing off his back foot.
However, far more often, Maye will step up and through open rushing lanes. He’s a surprisingly good runner given his size. Good athleticism and vision as a runner allows him to pick up big chunks of yards on the ground.
Below shows off a few runs by Maye. Some are designed quarterback runs, some are taking advantage of man coverage, and in one we see Maye outrunning future early draft pick Jeremiah Trotter Jr. (LB #54).
Maye’s ceiling as a quarterback is up there with anyone, which is why he’s likely to be the second quarterback off the board in the 2024 NFL Draft. But will he beat out Caleb?…I don’t think so. This isn’t so much a knock on Maye as it is an indication of the magic Caleb creates.
It’s also worth noting that Maye isn’t going to have as strong of a season as Caleb. It’s already hard to top a Lincoln Riley offense, couple that and Maye’s supporting cast taking a hit…it doesn’t bode well for his prospects of being the first quarterback off the board.
We saw the statistical tumble with Howell in his final year, and he subsequently fell to the fifth round in the NFL Draft. Maye won’t fall out of favor nearly as much, but a slight drop in production and consequently in draft rankings should be expected.
I’m hopeful to see a few improvements from Maye this upcoming season, specifically with his footwork and consistency in navigating the pocket. Those won’t show on the stat sheet, but I think they will be extremely meaningful for his improvement and reaching his potential as a quarterback.
Where is Maye in your ’24 rankings? Drop a comment in the comment box below to let us know your thoughts!
For more ’24 scouting reports, click any of the links below:
|Michael Penix Jr.
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