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Patriots select QB Maye with No. 3 pick in NFL Draft


Drake Maye had one word to describe how he felt after finding out he'd be beginning his NFL career with the Patriots.

“Stoked,” he said minutes after New England selected the North Carolina quarterback with the No. 3 pick in Thursday's NFL draft.

If Maye was feeling the weight of being the quarterback to attempt to revive the six-time Super Bowl champions in the post-Bill Belichick era, he didn't show it.

Maye becomes the second quarterback taken in the first round by New England since 2021 and will be its latest attempt to find a franchise quarterback following Tom Brady's departure after the 2019 season. New England traded 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones to Jacksonville earlier this offseason.

“Tom Brady's the G.O.A.T. It's easy to say that,” Maye said. “I'm not going to be Tom Brady. I'm just going to try to be Drake Maye. From there I'm just trying to learn from him. and hopefully try to get to know him a little bit. Other than that, try to soak it up and be a sponge. And try to learn all I can from him. He's the man in that town.”

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Maye checks many of the boxes the Patriots were looking for, with ideal arm strength and athleticism. He also will be coming into a situation in which the entire offense will be learning a fresh system under new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

The Patriots finished 4-13 and missed the playoffs for the second time in three years last season, leading team owner Robert Kraft deciding to part ways with Belichick after 24 seasons and hire his former assistant Jerod Mayo.

Maye’s selection served as the first big decision for director of scouting Eliot Wolf. In addition to coaching, Belichick had been the team’s de factor general manager with the final say in personnel decisions.

For now, Kraft has entrusted that power to Wolf, who will be serving as the lead voice in the Patriots’ draft room throughout the weekend.

Wolf said they have known for “weeks” that Washington would be taking Jayden Daniels No. 2 and their focus shifted to Maye.

Maye's character stood out throughout the draft process," Wolf said.

“He was one of the only quarterbacks in this draft that went up there after every loss and handled the media,” Wolf said. “He handled it with grace, with class. There were a lot of times where the reporters were trying to get him to throw somebody under the bus, and he wouldn’t do it. He’s a 21-year-old kid, but he’s very mature and understands what it means to be a leader.”

Mayo said that during Maye's pre-draft visit to the Patriots' team facility, one of the things they did was put together a video featuring some of his highlights and mistakes during his college career.

They were impressed how Maye was able to zero in on what he did wrong and explain what should have transpired to make the plays better.

Mayo said it's also been made clear that Maye wouldn't be walking into the building as the Day 1 starter.

“We're not sitting here saying Drake is our starting quarterback. I think he understands that," Mayo said. "He understands the things he needs to get better at.”

The Patriots have made moves this offseason to allow Maye to ease into a potential starting role.

Before trading Jones they signed veteran Jacoby Brissett — who was originally drafted by New England in 2016 — to a one-year deal.

But the hope is that Maye will be eventually help the Patriots turn the page on their recent misses at finding a quarterback.

New England brought in 2015 MVP Cam Newton in 2020, but he lasted only one season as the starter before the Patriots drafted Jones the following year.

Jones started strong, earning a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie and seemed like one of the finds of his class.

But he regressed in Year 2 under first-time offensive play-caller Matt Patricia. Jones then struggled again last season after Bill O’Brien returned as coordinator with the Patriots’ offense ranking in the bottom half of the league in multiple categories.

One of the people critiquing Maye on Thursday was Belichick, who was serving as an analyst on ESPN's “Pat McAfee Show” broadcast from the draft. Belichick he felt the Patriots filled one of their biggest needs by selecting a quarterback. He also identified offensive tackle and receiver as other top needs.

“Drake compares himself a lot to Josh Allen. He’s been doing that for quite a while. We’ll see about that," Belichick said.

He said Maye's footwork in the pocket needs to improve.

“Good size, runs well, has good arm," Belichick said. "Just he hasn’t played very much. He really doesn’t have a lot of experience and he makes some big plays.”