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Coach Knows Ball: Drake Maye 2024 NFL Draft Film Breakdown Of North Carolina QB

Drake Maye - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, QB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Welcome to Coach Knows Ball, an NFL Draft series analyzing the top prospects in the 2024 class. I'm a college football coach with nine years of NCAA experience, and have been scouting NFL Draft prospects for over 15 years. This series will give a deep dive into the film of some of the top players in this draft class, with detailed insight into the strengths, weaknesses, and projections of future NFL standouts.

Scouting NFL draft prospects is about projecting translatable traits. There is often overlap between translatable traits and college performance, but there's a reason many top college players are not considered legitimate professionals. For example, a wide receiver being able to get in and out of breaks efficiently will not change from college to pro. On the flip side, an edge-rusher who got most of his sacks due to hustle or missed offensive line assignments may not have shown translatable traits on film.

The film clips used in this series show positive and negative traits of each pro prospect. Reading this article will give you a more in-depth look into each player with actual in-game visual evidence. We will continue our Coach Knows Ball scouting series with North Carolina QB Drake Maye.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


Drake Maye Rookie Profile

Drake Maye burst onto the college football scene in 2022, passing for 4321 yards and 38 touchdowns on 66.2% completions as a redshirt freshman. Without Josh Downs, Maye's stats fell off in 2023, when he threw for 3608 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Maye has ideal size at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and is athletic enough to scramble to throw or run. Let's dive into the film.


Confidence In Structure

When things are working around him, Drake Maye looks like the best player on the field. He makes good decisions within the context of the offense when protection holds up.

In the clip below, Maye works a quick game concept to the field where his No. 2 receiver runs a curl. Maye delivers a strike on time before the flat defender can play the route. Maye is accurate within the structure of his offense and naturally places the ball well.

The clip below is an example of Maye placing a slot fade perfectly. If you give him a clean pocket, he can make every throw and excels down the field.

The clip below is a quick game concept that might not require such a crow-hop hitch up. However, scouting is not about grading his college film. This clip shows Maye transfer his weight and drop a dot into the outside receiver's hands in stride. The middle of the field safety can't get over in time.

In the clip below, Maye sees a free runner to his left and takes two hitches up right into interior pressure. He's still able to deliver a strike to his No. 2 receiver on the bender route.

Maye looks like Justin Herbert when he's at his best. He has confidence that he can make every throw, so when the offense is clicking, he fires strikes to all levels of the field.

Basketball on Grass

Maye's translation to the pro game won't be entirely smooth as it relates to under-center concepts and checking protections. However, his ability to learn how to execute an NFL offense is not the reason he'll be drafted highly. Maye's athletic instincts and craftiness on second-reaction plays is what makes him an intriguing pro prospect.

The clip below shows the type of breakdown in protection that was all too common in Maye's film. It's a positive in that Maye was able to find success while dealing with so much pressure.

The clip below is brilliant diagnosing of having only five blockers for six line-of-scrimmage rushers. Maye knows who will be free and that he has a man-beating corner route to his left. There's no need to evaluate footwork, but what this shows is spatial instincts, smarts, guts, and crazy arm talent. This play resulted in a touchdown.

The clip below shows a mesh concept with five-man protection. The only way to beat the blitz with this concept is to buy time. Maye does an excellent job sneaking around the free runner and firing a strike to his mesh route. This looks like Justin Herbert.

The clip below speaks for itself. Maye actually makes a mistake here, as he should give the ball to his running back. When he decides to keep it, the edge defender has an easy tackle for loss... until Maye pulls a rabbit out of his hat with his left hand while being contacted by two defenders. Special stuff.

The clip below shows great placement and arm talent on the run to his left. The coaching staff clearly had no issue sprinting Maye out to his left. They may have hoped he hit the flat route, but a down-and-dirty laser for a touchdown is even better.

The clip below shows more plus mobility and arm talent from Maye. This is a point guard drawing a double team, then dishing it out to his teammate. The release and arm talent shine through. Being able to win with craftiness on second-reaction plays is a huge plus in today's NFL.

The clip below again shows Maye recognizing a six-man pressure against five-man protection. He slides right and shows off his touch on the well-placed slot fade. Maye's base, footwork, and mechanics aren't always sound, but he has a whippy arm and natural accuracy.

Another positive trait Maye has is his ability to run the ball. Maye rushed for 1209 yards and 16 touchdowns as a two-year starter. While he won't be Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts, he has the rushing ability to make defenses respect his legs.


Translation Concerns

Drake Maye's numbers took a dip in 2023, and protection issues were surely part of it. He also lost his top receiver in Josh Downs to the NFL. However, there were discouraging signs of a lack of growth late in 2023. The most glaring concern shown on film is Maye's tendency to throw interceptions or interception-worthy passes all too often.

In the clip below, UNC is running a similar play to the mesh concept shown previously in this article. Clemson, however, only rushes three, and forces Maye to play hero ball. Maye's drifting is a bad habit, as there's no reason for him to willingly drop to 11+ yards behind the line of scrimmage with crossing routes and flat routes as his answers. He then misfires and throws a pick right to a defender.

Here's mesh in the red zone again. Maye is wild with the pump fakes and probably doesn't need two hitches up in the pocket to get to his over-the-ball route. He has two tight windows to choose from but instead airmails a ball that should've been picked off.

The clip below shows another example of a risky red zone decision. It's first down early in the game, there's no reason to try to fire a ball under duress to a route that's almost dead in the concept. These types of decisions show an overconfidence in his arm that will lead to turnovers at the next level.

When Maye's fadeaway works, it's a special highlight. When it doesn't, the clip below happens. There is simply no excuse for throwing across his body against this man coverage. It's a bad decision and a weak throw.

Maye hit plenty of deep balls on film, but I don't think his arm is above average in terms of velocity at the pro level. He tends to overcompensate by crow-hopping aggressively up or taking two hitches, both of which will mess up protection schemes and timing at the NFL level. He has a narrow base and drifts in the pocket as well. These are fixable traits, but obvious bad habits.

In the clip below, you can see all of Maye's issues. His base is super narrow and because he doesn't hitch up once or twice, he doesn't get great velocity on the sail throw. He also drifts to his right.

Drake Maye has a ton of talent, and at just 21 years old, there's still a lot of potential. However, there are some concerning traits in terms of mechanics and decision-making that do put disappointing pro squarely in his range of outcomes.

NFL Outlook

Drake Maye has the size, accuracy, and playmaking ability to lead an NFL offense. His in-structure game needs work in terms of lower-body mechanics, but you can't teach his ability to create and place the ball well at all levels. Out of structure, his film shows craftiness that if it translates, can ignite an offense.

However, there are risks with his projection, as his decision-making, ball velocity, and ability to deal with pressure were inconsistent on film. A team will likely take him in the top 10, but he has a wide range of outcomes and I wouldn't be comfortable drafting him until late in the first round.

If you would like to read and watch some of my past film breakdowns, click on the links below.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more draft content in the coming days.

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