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Patriots rookie minicamp observations: Drake Maye as advertised

In Sports
May 12, 2024

Patriots rookie minicamp observations: Drake Maye as advertised originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO – So what was the most noteworthy, remarkable, interesting, “Gotta tell your friends about it” takeaway from Saturday’s Patriots rookie minicamp session?

Jaysus, does Joe Milton have a galldarn cannon of an arm.

And while even a casual NFL fan has known that since Milton flashed it at the NFL Combine in February, it’s still an arresting development. After watching the Mac Jones/Bailey Zappe combo for the past couple seasons, this is like going from (golf reference incoming) watching a Champions Tour event to a Long Drive contest.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Cool. Nobody cares how hard Milton throws it. How did Drake Maye look, doofus?”

I guess that’s kind of the point. Maye was “fine” during the 60-minute session open to media on Saturday. Throwing against air with no defenders, he had plenty of precise throws and plenty of imprecise ones. His misses were mostly placement problems. There were no “WTF” throws, just ones that were clearly behind receivers or a bit too high on middle-of-the-field throws.

But he showed command and presence in the huddle and at the line, he certainly fills out the No. 10 jersey better than Jones did, and he has plenty of arm, even though Milton’s is a tick or two stronger.

In short, Maye is as advertised. A work in progress with all the physical tools to, someday, maybe, approach his much-discussed ceiling.

The Patriots devoted the first portion of practice to fundamentals with all positions. I focused on Maye and Milton as they were schooled by offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, quarterbacks coach T.C. McCartney and offensive assistants Ben McAdoo and Evan Rothstein.

Head coach Jerod Mayo was asked who will be in Maye’s ear the most.

“Across the league, most offensive coordinators, they interact with the quarterback, the starting quarterback for the most part,” he replied. “We do have a group of coaches that have quarterback backgrounds, but I would say overall it would be AVP (Alex Van Pelt) as far as that lead guy.”

Whether that will be the case when Jacoby Brissett is with the group for next month’s minicamp and training camp remains to be seen. But on this day, Maye would have been seen as the “starter,” as he took the first reps ahead of Milton.

Mayo acknowledged there’s a lot of quarterback-centric coaches and added, “There has to be balance there; you don’t want Drake hearing too many voices. Once again, that’s why I’m saying that AVP will be the lead guy as far as that communication with Drake.”

🔊 Patriots Talk: Deep dive on our first look at Drake Maye at Patriots’ rookie minicamp | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Maye and Milton worked on taking snaps, getting into short drops and handoffs before moving on to some drops with accuracy throws into a net target. It was windy and there was a lot of footwork stuff that was the primary focus, but Maye didn’t hit the target very often.

“I think kind of the first day, just feeling it out and just getting more and more reps. That’s all something new takes. Just getting more reps at it,” Maye explained. “I think it’s – you know, it’s a perk to it. Quick game’s a lot quicker.

“…And I think under-center stance, there’s a lot I’m trying out new – you know, two new stances that I’m getting used to. So, just working on it, repping it. And I’m starting – I felt pretty good out there today. So, just got to keep working.”

Other notes

  • Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker were 1-2 in all the receiver reps. Polk, the second-rounder from Washington, showed precision and burst in his routes and very nice hands throughout.

Baker had a couple of drops on balls he should have handled. Mayo was asked before practice about the fourth-rounder’s unbridled self-confidence displayed on social media.

“I want these guys to have a personality,” said Mayo. “I want them to feel free to talk about certain things.

“Look, we’ll have rules of what to talk about. But now, once he puts it out there, he has to show it every day out here on the football field. If not, he’s just a talker and you start to lose the respect of the locker room and things like that. So, he said it, he put that out there, and now you have to show us.”

  • Third-rounder Caedan Wallace and fourth-rounder Layden Robinson were at left tackle and left guard respectively throughout the workout.

  • The catch of the day was made by seventh-round tight end Jaheim Bell, who neatly tracked an over-the-shoulder catch on a lofted throw by Maye.

  • Mayo was asked what he was looking for in the workout. His reply: “First and foremost, yesterday was more of an evaluation day to see how these guys are physically and also mentally. Today, we’ll have a little bit more as far as competitive drills. … I think the thing we have to remember is that it’s football, so there have been a lot of shorts-and-T-shirt all-stars that never really touched the field. We’ll have to wait and see until we get the pads on.”

  • As for Mayo’s early impressions of Maye: Look, he has a lot to work on. A lot to work on. But I have no doubt that he will put the time in. You didn’t see him out here yesterday, but he was here all night trying to get on the same page as everyone else.”

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