As is often the case, this is more than a one-quarterback draft class for the Chicago Bears. While Caleb Williams might get most of the hype at the moment, there could be legitimate threats to his chances of being the #1 pick in the draft. GM Ryan Poles owes it to the Chicago Bears to do every bit of homework possible on all the quarterbacks. If he doesn’t and one of them becomes the next great player, he will have followed in a long line of general managers who cut corners when they shouldn’t have. Drake Maye is up next.
Everybody knows the story here—a quarterback who wears #10 and played at North Carolina. Bears fans have traumatic flashbacks to the Mitch Trubisky era. It is difficult not to make comparisons. However, the saying goes, you must scout the player, not the helmet. So, let’s take a look at what Maye brings to the table.
Is Drake Maye a Ryan Poles guy? Let’s find out.
- One of the best arms in the draft. He can drive the ball with velocity at all levels of the field and fit it into the tightest windows that most QBs can’t.
- Prototypical size. If you drew the ideal quarterback on a canvas, it would look like him with his 6’5, 230 lbs frame. He has the build necessary for the NFL.
- Utterly fearless. Isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there when running the ball and will attack defenses constantly, trusting in his ability.
- While it’s not what he is known for, Maye can make plays with his legs. He had over 1200 career rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.
- Comfortable in the pocket. Understands how to operate on timing and rhythm, reading the field until he finds the open man.
This play is a good summation of Maye’s strengths. Georgia Tech brings a delayed blitz and a rusher gets free for a clean shot at him. Maye doesn’t panic, trusting his feet. He reads the play perfectly, firing an absolute dot to his receiver over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown. Those are the kinds of throws NFL quarterbacks are expected to make.
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- Was productive and got eight wins from a supporting cast that was frankly not that good. He has that ability to elevate the players around him.
- Release is a bit wonky but it’s quick enough to get the ball out fast when pressure is bearing down.
- Has a moxie to him. Led some impressive comebacks late in the 4th quarter between 2022 and 2023. He always seemed to play his best in rivalry games.
- Accuracy can be a bit streaky at times. There are stretches where the guy can’t miss but then his ball placement will go all over the place.
- Has a lot of gunslinger in him. Shows a bad tendency to attack windows he shouldn’t and will throw it into dense coverages when he’s feeling rushed.
- Struggles to read more complex coverages. If opponents disguise looks against them, he tends to get too easily confused.
- Still carries too many hitches in his drops. Also tends to pump fake a lot. He gets away with it in college, but that won’t fly at the pro level.
- Known for having a somewhat stoic personality. While not a bad guy, there are some questions about his ability to lead.
- Can’t hide from the basketball school stigma. No UNC quarterback has ever had a successful career in the NFL to this point.
Pro comparison: Jay Cutler
Like Maye, Cutler built his reputation at a primarily basketball school (Vanderbilt) and spent most of his college career carrying mediocre rosters. He wasn’t great at reading coverages, could get reckless with the ball, was streaky, and had a standoffish personality. Cutler also had a tremendous arm, elite toughness, athleticism, and could put together some dazzling performances. It was always about consistency with him. That is Maye in a nutshell. If he finds consistency, he will be great.
Projection: Top 10
Unless he completely fumbles the ball in interviews, Drake Maye will be a top 10 pick. His caliber of talent is rare. Teams have taken risks that high on guys with far less proven track records. See Josh Allen. If the Cutler comparison holds, the Bears are sure to be interested. Jay was a Pro Bowl player when he played in a Shanahan-style offense with the Denver Broncos. Matt Eberflus and Shane Waldron might see something similar unfolding with Maye at the helm.