Drake Maye Mock Draft: Is Maye the Next North Carolina Tar Heels Top 10 Pick?

    As his name continues to populate early 2024 NFL mock drafts, Drake Maye is set to be the next North Carolina Tar Heels top 10 draft pick.

    Seven years after the metaphorical ghost of Mitchell Trubisky cast a shadow over North Carolina quarterback prospects in the NFL Draft, are the Tar Heels set to have another passer penetrate the top 10? Drake Maye headlines multiple mock drafts as a potential early first-round pick as he continues to perform at a high level in the 2023 college football season.

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    When the Chicago Bears selected Trubisky with the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, they set in motion a series of events that would undermine the NFL future of subsequent North Carolina passers.

    Just ask Sam Howell.

    Despite Trubisky’s metaphorical ghost haunting Chapel Hill, Maye is set to return the program to the upper echelons of the draft next April.

    Considered one of the top quarterbacks in college football and the 2024 NFL Draft class, Maye appears to be on a collision course with the top 10 if recent mock drafts are to be believed.

    In his latest one-round mock draft for Pro Football Network, analyst Owain Jones places the North Carolina QB with a team without a long-term plan at the position following the retirement of Tom Brady.

    “If the Buccaneers are drafting this early, then they won’t be rolling into the 2024 NFL season with Baker Mayfield under center,” Jones states.

    In this scenario, an inverse of the current Super Bowl odds, PFN has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafting fourth overall. It’s worth pointing out that it was published before the season-opening win over the Minnesota Vikings.

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    “They will have to consider drafting a quarterback so their rookie deal will help them pay some of the big contracts to their veterans that they will have to dish out over the next couple of seasons,” Jones continues. “Who better to select here than Drake Maye?”

    Who better, indeed?

    Well, in most 2024 NFL mock drafts, Maye is the second quarterback off the board with USC standout Caleb Williams viewed as the top prospect at the position by many draft analysts. However, Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst Ian Cummings believes the QB1 competition is far closer than media speculation would have you believe.

    “Maye is almost just as enthralling as a physical talent with his size-adjusted athleticism, effortless velocity generation, and arm elasticity,” Cummings states in a recent article examining the battle to be the QB1 of the 2024 NFL Draft class.

    “He’s arguably a more disciplined pocket navigator whose film is dotted with examples of exceptional situational awareness, football IQ, and defensive manipulation.”

    Maye is Already a Record-Setter at North Carolina

    The mock draft hype and national adoration are nothing new for Maye. Since his arrival in Chapel Hill, he’s been viewed as the next great North Carolina quarterback, even as he waited patiently behind Sam Howell in 2021.

    You could argue that as a four-star QB with significant family ties to the program, the hype actually began even further back than even then.

    Yet, it’s his performances off the field for the Tar Heels that have solidified Maye’s standing within the college football program and powered his position amongst recent mock drafts.

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    In his first season as the starter in 2022, Maye compiled a laundry list of national recognition, including being named the ACC Player of the Year, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, after for 4,321 yards and 38 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.

    It was the first time since 2013, when FSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston swept the board, that one player had won all four of the ACC’s offensive honors. Maye’s name appears alongside Winston’s as the only ACC QBs in the last 15 seasons who completed 75% of their passes and logged five touchdowns in their first career start.

    In addition to national honors, Maye set North Carolina program records for single-season passing yards and touchdowns thrown (nine) through the first two games of a single season.

    Furthermore, his 38 touchdown passes tied the program record for most passing touchdowns in a single season. While his performance with his arm was admirable, his ability to conjure up yardage and touchdowns with his legs — 698 yards and seven touchdowns — ensured that Maye entered 2023 as one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football.

    An impressive performance — 75% completed passes, 269 yards, two touchdowns — to guide North Carolina to a comfortable win in the season-opener against in-state rival South Carolina, coupled with a battling win over Appalachian State, have only enhanced his reputation.

    As he continues to be a feature in the top 10 of mock drafts, exorcising the ghost of Trubisky, Maye is unlikely to be in Chapel Hill long enough to rubber stamp his name on some of the career passing record books.

    That shouldn’t stop him being considered a legendary Tar Heels passer, however.

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