Predicting When Drake Maye Will Make His First Start for the Patriots

Apr 25, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye poses with NFL
Apr 25, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye poses with NFL / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Once Drake Maye walked across the stage on April 25 as the third overall pick, New England Patriots fans have been anxiously awaiting for when they will see their new franchise quarterback in action. Given the undesirable quarterback play of the last few seasons from New England's signal callers, Maye's starting role probably can't come soon enough for Patriots nation.

Maye, New England's highest draft pick since 1993, will be at the center of the Patriots' ability to flip the script and return to perennial playoff appearances. No pressure, kid.

Much of the intel emerging from Foxborough has peddled the idea of a "competition" amongst the Patriots quarterback room for the Week 1 starting role, but make no mistake, Maye will likely have to blow away the coaching staff to earn that honor.

The North Carolina product has been labeled as a "project" and a "raw" prospect, which aren't characteristics of a Week 1-starting QB. This isn't a knock on Maye, but rather a reality check for Patriots fans.

The Patriots tipped their hand when they inked veteran QB Jacoby Brissett, a former New England draft pick, to a one-year deal back in March. Bailey Zappe, the incumbent starter, has appeared in 14 games for the Patriots in two seasons and remains on the roster. New England also selected another QB in the draft, taking Joe Milton in the sixth round.

Patriots fans will be eager to see Maye on the field as their quarterback. Here are the three most likely timeframes that could happen, from least likely to most likely.

Least Likely: Week 1

A lot could change in the next four months or so before the NFL season kicks off, but rushing Maye would undoubtedly do far more bad than good.

Chase Daniel, who spent 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback, labeled Maye as a "very raw" prospect and declared that he isn't ready yet to start in the league, and an NFC scout told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network that "Drake's going to a be a big project because he's just not naturally accurate".

Appearing on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" on April 29, Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo was asked how ready Maye might be to make the transition to pro ball. Mayo's line that "none of these quarterbacks are coming in here ready to play" the most damning line of the quote:

"None of these quarterbacks are coming in here ready to play...It’s very hard to sit here and say this guy is going to play. But what I will say is he’s going to compete. We have a solid quarterback room, in our opinion, and they’re going to compete, and the best player to going to play."

Patriots HC Jerod Mayo

Now, there is plenty of time for Maye to improve, and perhaps his development accelerates far quicker than the franchise is anticipating. In 2021, another first-round New England QB, Mac Jones, earned the starting role over Cam Newton after a strong camp and a particularly impressive performance against the New York Giants in joint practices.

At the end of the day, the quarterback competition will be framed as Brissett vs. Maye, but if Maye does enough to clean up some of the concerns that have led to him garnering the project label (predominantly, his footwork), it really could just be Drake Maye vs. Drake Maye.

Based on external evaluations of Maye and Mayo's comments, this is undeniably the long-shot of the three options.