New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

L-R: New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo, QB Drake Maye (USA Today Images)

The New England Patriots finally have their new quarterback. On Thursday night, the team drafted North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye third overall, making him the organization’s latest attempt at finding their next franchise quarterback.

For many fans, this pick probably feels like the end of a long, arduous process. That began with watching these quarterbacks play back in October after the Patriots themselves got off to a 1-5, and then 2-8 start before the bye, and continued throughout the pre-draft process during the spring.

Drake Maye is exactly the kind of quarterback the Patriots needed to gamble on
Ranking the biggest needs on the Patriots’ roster
Full Patriots coverage

In a sense, yes this is the end of an expansive process. But it’s also the beginning of one. Choosing the right quarterback is only half the battle – now the team has to develop him.

So often leading up to the draft, prospects (especially quarterbacks) are talked about in a bubble. Will a player be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in the NFL is a common question, when in reality, it’s much more complicated than that.

Drafting the right player is only half the battle, the team also has to put that player in a position to succeed. There have been good prospects who went to bad situations and saw their potential impact lessened or their careers outright derailed. There are even some examples of lesser prospects who were elevated by good surroundings.

MORE: Drake Maye scouting report & player profile

Thursday night, the Patriots took care of the first half of the battle. Maye is a high-ceiling player with a big arm, great size, toughness, and mobility at the quarterback position. He has plenty of tools that simply aren’t coachable. But now, it’s up to the Patriots’ organization to continue on the process and fill in the rest. This pick is a vote of confidence in the re-built offensive coaching staff and front office, and now it’s the staff’s turn to deliver.

What does that look like? There are multiple angles at play here. What we can do is use the Patriots’ failed development of Mac Jones – who they selected in the first round in 2021 – as a guide. What do the Patriots need to do differently this time around? We’ll narrow in on some key areas.

Before we start though let me be clear about something. Some parts of this may come off as a defense of Jones. It isn’t. He isn’t without blame for the Patriots’ past three years, and Maye comes into the NFL with substantially more physical tools than he did. But the Patriots had their missteps in his development as well, and that’s what we’ll be looking at here.

  • Continue adding to the offense

    Eliot Wolf

    Eliot Wolf appeared Thursday morning for a pre-NFL draft press conference at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Bob Socci)

    Saying a quarterback ‘needs help around him’ is often seen as a knock in NFL vernacular. In reality though, after investing the third overall pick in a QB the idea should be to give him as much help as possible to maximize his skillset.

    “I just think we need to support him in any way we can, on the field, off the field,” de facto general manager Eliot Wolf told reporters on Thursday night when asked what the team will do to do ‘what’s best for’ Maye. “We need to add some weapons to the offense. We need to shore up the offensive line.”

    After drafting Jones in 2021 the Patriots used just three ‘premium’ assets to add to the offense. Those assets were all top-100 draft picks – they took guard Cole Strange 29th overall and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton 50th overall in 2022, and that same offseason traded the 77th overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for DeVante Parker.

    Besides Parker, their only major veteran addition at wide receiver was JuJu Smith-Schuster, who they made the 40th highest-paid receiver in 2023. At tackle their biggest external additions were Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson, who were signed last spring and played in a combined six games. Compare that to some of the other quarterbacks in Jones’ class, who saw their teams make major investments at wide receiver and/or tackle in years two and three. That yielded mixed results, but the attempt was there.

    Additionally, Maye won’t have the strong preceding free agency class that Jones did after the Patriots’ spending spree in 2021. That group included Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Trent Brown (via trade).

    This time around, the Patriots need a more aggressive, and more consistent approach in putting pieces around Maye. Yes you could argue Jones got the benefit of the 2021 class, but there were no major investments after that. This should be an ongoing, multi-year effort.

  • Keep a sustainable offensive coaching staff

    Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt during training camp on Saturday, July 30, 2022 in Berea. (Phil Masturzo/USA Today Network)

    Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt during training camp on Saturday, July 30, 2022 in Berea. (Phil Masturzo/USA Today Network)

    After the Patriots reached the playoffs with Jones as a rookie in 2021, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was hired away as a head coach by the Las Vegas Raiders. McDaniels, who was coming off of a previous failed head coaching stint and backed out after agreeing to take the Colts job, initially wasn’t viewed as a likely coaching candidate. But, that’s the power of a a team being successful with a rookie quarterback. Other teams will want whatever part they can get of the group that made that happen.

    The same goes for the Patriots now. If Maye plays well initially, Alex Van Pelt will likely become a head coaching candidate. If and when that happened, the Patriots need to be prepared with a contingency plan.

    With McDaniels, that wasn’t the case. He brought most of the offensive staff with him to Las Vegas, and there was no clear in-house successor on the offensive side of the ball to take over as coordinator, with the job going instead to longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia.

    This time around, the Patriots may already be setting themselves up for a situation where Van Pelt leaves after initial success. T.C. McCartney was hired as the quarterbacks coach, but his resume to this point reads more like that of an offensive coordinator than that of an outright QB coach. While he has coached quarterbacks before, he also has experience working with tight ends, and as a general offensive assistant. Given his background, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team – specifically Van Pelt – put some time into grooming him as the next OC.

    If that’s the case, the Patriots would have a clear succession plan in place if Van Pelt develops Maye properly and then gets hired elsewhere. Keeping that continuity for a young quarterback would be important, especially if Maye impresses early.

  • Have a plan, and stick to it

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 05: Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo looks on during the game against the Washington Commanders at Gillette Stadium on November 05, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 05: Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo looks on during the game against the Washington Commanders at Gillette Stadium on November 05, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The biggest initial question regarding Maye is whether or not he’ll start right away, or at all in his rookie year. On Thursday night, both Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo were non-committal in that regard.

    “I think to go back to Bill [Belichick], I don’t think many rookies are ready to just jump in and play. At the end of the day, our philosophy is the best players will play,” Mayo said. “I would say we’re going to compete all spring, we’re going to compete during training camp, and the best player will start.”

    Ultimately, the Patriots development plan for Maye will develop over the coming weeks, into the early days of training camp. Whatever that plan is though, they should be determined to stick to it. Once Maye is in as the starter, he’s in. For a number of reasons, benching him as a rookie would represent a major step backwards for both him and the organization. We saw over the past two years how an unclear quarterback depth chart can create issues.

    If they think he’s ready to start right away? Great. If they think he needs more time? That may be O.K. too – they’re not expected to contend immediately. They just need to be sure that when they do make the move, it’s the right time for everybody.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.