Here’s to a Little Blind Faith in Drake Maye and the Patriots

New England has holes all over its roster, so trading the third pick might have made more sense than developing a rookie quarterback.
The Patriots kept the third pick in the 2024 NFL draft and selected Drake Maye.
The Patriots kept the third pick in the 2024 NFL draft and selected Drake Maye. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Far be it for any of us to criticize a new regime that we still know nothing about, but once everyone lays their cards on the table and stops the comical we-knew-it-all-along bluffing, it will be fascinating to see what the New England Patriots turned down for the right to select Drake Maye at No. 3 in the 2024 NFL draft and whether they come to regret it.

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This is to say nothing negative about Maye, who could very well end up being the quarterback everyone wishes they picked. It’s more about the Patriots and, namely, how equipped they are to handle a rookie quarterback at the moment without derailing some of his upside. 

I had always viewed this draft as a foundational one for coach Jerod Mayo and GM Eliot Wolf, meaning that, like Chicago had done with Ryan Poles, they passed on their first opportunity to draft a quarterback in lieu of bolstering the remainder of the roster. While we’re likely not going to get back-to-back quarterback classes like this again, I could (and did) make a strong argument that subsequent quarterback classes will be more able to contribute based on a higher volume of reps and broader knowledge of offensive systems and defenses. 

Again, we have no access to New England’s revamped grading board. But, in a draft loaded with offensive line and receiver help, couldn’t there be an argument made to fortify two of New England’s most glaringly weak positions before throwing a quarterback into the fray and forcing him to figure it out? 

I get the argument to the contrary. If the guy is there, you take him and build around him. But go back to 2016 and see all the quarterbacks who have won rookie of the year—Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray and C.J. Stroud. For the most part, these players had a roster capable of contributing to their early success and preventing them from getting stuck in destructive, save-your-ass habit patterns that tend to linger. Murray had Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Herbert had Shane Steichen, Austin Ekeler and a team built to compete around Philip Rivers the year before. Prescott had a very competitive roster. And Stroud had a Texans team featuring a lot of talented players we would soon discover, not to mention a franchise left tackle, a dynamic new coach and an offensive coordinator in Bobby Slowik who, after just eight weeks on the job, was receiving overtures for head coaching jobs.  

The Patriots selecting Maye feels closer to the Cincinnati Bengals taking Joe Burrow, which absolutely worked out, but not without side effects. Burrow was absolutely thrashed behind a sub-par offensive line in Year 1. It took another year of high draft equity and an expensive free agency binge to get him to a place where he could succeed. New England would be hoping to hit on a few consecutive years of picks without trading down and increasing its odds.  

What are the Patriots currently working with? Maye’s most accomplished receivers will be JuJu Smith-Schuster and K.J. Osborn. Perhaps Tyquan Thornton develops, but Maye’s best offensive weapon remains Rhamondre Stevenson. Coordinator Alex Van Pelt has a strong background in playing the position, but his past two years were as a top offensive assistant in an offense that featured a disappointing Deshaun Watson under center (I do not want to come close to putting this all on Van Pelt, but we’re talking about known quantities at this moment right now, and it’s impossible to say that we were blown away by the quarterback play in Cleveland these past two years). 

Don’t misconstrue the point: I’m not down on Maye or the Patriots. I hope this column, if the free internet exists in 10 years, is shown next to every clip of Maye winning his fourth Super Bowl. There is nothing better than ample, high-level quarterback play. 

But the days of highly drafted quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning throwing 28 interceptions in his first season and recovering to be one of the best to ever play the game are all but over. We are one more disappointing Jaguars season away from calling in the emergency airlift for Trevor Lawrence and wondering if a third head coach can fix him (does the first one count if it's Urban Meyer? Just asking). 

Quarterbacks need early momentum. They need to run downhill for a bit so as to ease the shocking nature of the transition. They need help. Maye won’t have any in New England. Either he sits in 2024, wasting a year of top-quality draft equity, or he plays and gets battered around, putting ’25 at risk as well.

The third option is that Maye is so incredibly good that none of it matters. I hope he is. The Patriots do, too. Here’s to a little blind faith, which, in this case, is hopefully better than cold reasoning. 

John Pluym


John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.