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Raiders’ QB options in 2024 draft: Drake Maye brings big potential

Updated April 8, 2024 - 11:50 am

North Carolina’s Drake Maye was considered a lock to be the second overall pick in April’s NFL draft almost all of last season.

The calculus may have changed since then.

Southern California’s Caleb Williams is still expected to be the first selection. But Maye’s performance took a step back compared to his 2022 season, while Louisiana State’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy made strides.

It’s not certain whether the Commanders will take Maye second overall. There’s a chance he falls anywhere from No. 3 with the New England Patriots to the back end of the top 10.

Maye could wind up being a steal if his 2022 self — he threw for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman — shows up in the NFL. He has a similar build to Bills quarterback Josh Allen at 6 feet, 5 inches and 220 pounds, but is a more polished thrower at the same stage of his career. Maye also showed in college he’s a weapon as a runner by rushing for 1,209 yards in 30 games with the Tar Heels.

The 21-year-old is as good as it gets in the draft when it comes to tools. But it’s hard to ignore his slide last season, when his completion percentage dipped from 66.2 to 63.3. Maye also threw 14 fewer touchdowns as a sophomore while adding two more interceptions.

Drake Maye

2023 stats

Played 12 games and completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,608 yards while throwing 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Strengths

Maye, a two-time captain in two years as a starter, is considered a strong leader.

He also has prototypical NFL traits. His arm is legit, as he can make throws to all areas on the field and fit passes into tight windows. His 2022 tape also shows he can be accurate while doing so.

Maye’s confidence in his arm allows him to make throws others might shy away from. It also lets him get rid of the ball when pressure arrives. Maye is willing to stand in the pocket and go through his reads, but he’s athletic enough to run the ball when needed.

Weaknesses

Maye didn’t handle changes to North Carolina’s offense well.

He lost his two best receivers heading into his sophomore season. His offensive line also wasn’t as solid as it was when he was a freshman. Those two things, along with an almost season-long ankle issue, made Maye a different player from the one he was the year before.

Too many of his interceptions were the result of poor decisions. He sometimes struggled to process what was happening during a play, especially if his first read wasn’t open.

Maye’s mechanics were also inconsistent and caused accuracy issues.

Why he fits the Raiders

It’s been forever since the Raiders had a young quarterback with May’s size, strength and athletic ability.

His weaknesses are correctable. He could turn into the franchise player the Raiders have lacked for years under center.

Maye also has so much room to grow considering he won’t turn 22 until August.

Why he doesn’t fit

It’s hard to imagine Maye falling out of the top six despite Daniels and McCarthy picking up steam in the draft process. He’ll likely go in the top three selections. That means the Raiders would need to pay a ransom to move from No. 13 to get him.

The team would have to be convinced Maye’s drop-off last season was just a blip to pay what it would take to trade up.

What they’re saying

“He’s got outstanding size. Got a big-time arm, a live arm — that’s irrefutable. He’s an outstanding athlete, not only as you know you can use him in designed quarterback runs, you can move the pocket. He’s got a creative gene to him to be able to make things happen. Like, those things are all irrefutable and then when you talk to the folks at the school and you hear (he’s) incredibly bright, (an) incredibly tough leader, I’m like, ‘This is the foundation.’ Now, there’s some footwork stuff that gets away from him at times, he’s always under pressure, he tried to get a little too big at moments — he can dial that back. But if we’re talking about the foundation of a successful quarterback, he has all of it.”

— Daniel Jeremiah, NFL media draft analyst

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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