Merril Hoge Will Not Stop Firing Out Hot Takes, Says Drake Maye Isn’t A 1st-Round QB In The 2024 NFL Draft

Drake Maye
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Mere weeks after opining that Caleb Williams “is not special”, longtime NFL analyst Merril Hoge has another fastball ready for the widely-viewed, consensus QB2 in the 2024 NFL Draft. North Carolina signal-caller Drake Maye is viewed as the no-brainer pick to go after Williams. Many believe he’ll be selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Commanders once the Chicago Bears replace Justin Fields with Williams.

If Hoge’s opinion holds any weight, we might be looking at a scenario where the Commanders draft LSU Heisman winner Jayden Daniels over Maye:

“I wouldn’t touch Maye. I wouldn’t grab Maye. I wouldn’t grab him in the first round, and there’s a bunch of things that bother me. He’s extremely inconsistent. His accuracy, his processing are inconsistent. He’s not extremely athletic. I think I’m finding [him] more stiff. He’s got a longer throwing motion, which allows more hits in our league…and I’m just bothered by it.

“[…] He misses a lot of hot [reads]. The team misses hot. He sees hots, and he doesn’t throw hot. You’d have to get in the room and say, ‘OK, why don’t you throw this?’ Walk me through this. That process bothers me. In our league, now, you gotta be dialed in. You gotta be sharp on that. […] A guy can talk smart on the board, but then he can’t process it on the field. And if I find out that guy’s like that, I wouldn’t touch him. Ever.”

For as much as I disagree with Hoge on his Caleb Williams take, I couldn’t be much more aligned with him when it comes to Drake Maye. I don’t see it with him, either. Now I will say, Maye is more athletic and mobile than Hoge gives him credit for. There is a certain Josh Allen element to his game. But in terms of taking him No. 2 overall? I wouldn’t do it.

The processing issue that Hoge alludes to is something I noticed with Maye, too — and it’s part of the reason why I have him rated at QB6 as of right now.

On that whole processing point Hoge makes, there’s some struggle with that I’ve seen on Daniels’ tape. The difference is, Daniels has Lamar Jackson levels of explosiveness as a runner, so if he falls a little short in that department, he can get away with it more often while learning on the job in the NFL.

Upon a little closer review of the prospects, there isn’t as much of a gap between Maye and some of the other guys like I initially thought. My still-in-flux top 100 big board of prospects has the top QBs as follows:

1. Caleb Williams

3. Jayden Daniels

19. JJ McCarthy

20. Bo Nix

23. Michael Penix Jr.

29. Drake Maye

Might as well drop my takeaways on McCarthy here.

I like that Nix has so much starting experience and is a former elite recruit with excellent athleticism and physical tools that favorably compare to those of Maye’s. Penix is a little closer to Maye for me. That has more to do with Penix’s lengthy injury history than anything else. If not for that long medical rap sheet and some struggles when facing pressure, Penix would probably be QB3 for me and closer to the big board top 10.

You have to give a certain amount of weight to positional value when it comes to building a big board. For me, Maye is a guy I’d take in the late first or early second round in a vacuum. The raw attributes between his sheer size and arm strength are self-evident, along with the ability to create/extend plays with his legs. Pretty much everything else about him from what I’ve seen, I’m left wanting more.

Now again, the positional value factors in here. Because QBs are the most important position above all, the No. 29 slot for Maye means to me that it’s still reasonable to draft him somewhere around the teens. QB-needy teams like the Vikings, Broncos and Raiders are lurking right around there at Nos. 11, 12 and 13 overall respectively.

This is a really good crop of QBs entering the NFL Draft. Even South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler has an intriguing skill set. But yeah, I’m in with most of what Hoge says here. Not the biggest Drake Maye guy. I don’t mind being on an island about this. Who cares if you’re wrong about the draft? The people whose jobs it is, with the premium access to every slice of game film you could ever want, whiff on their major draft picks all the damn time. Guys like Puca Nacua or Brock Purdy fall to the later rounds when, in hindsight, they’d be first-round picks.

Another good Maye take here from ex-NFL QB Kurt Benkert, who made waves of late by saying Jayden Daniels is his QB1.

Hopefully I don’t get too into the feelings of Tar Heel football fans, or draftniks who blindly submit to the groupthink about Maye being some transcendent prospect. I do think if he were eligible for the draft in 2023, he could’ve come out and beaten out Bryce Young as the No. 1 pick. That’d be even cooler from the Carolina Panthers’ perspective to get the hometown kid, as Maye was actually born in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I’m not writing off Drake Maye as a viable franchise quarterback. I just wouldn’t take him anywhere near the top three picks, unless it was a situation like the Chiefs moving way up from 27th to 10 for Patrick Mahomes once upon a time. Maye either needs to fall in the draft to land in a better situation, or have a team closer to contention trade up to draft him high. So much about a player’s success depends on where they’re drafted.

Maye doesn’t strike me as a guy who can overcome the Commanders’ dysfunction, or strut into the dumpster fire that is the current iteration of the Patriots and return them to glory. I’d actually like him to go to the Vikings to sit behind Kirk Cousins. However, even if Cousins leaves Minnesota before the draft, Kevin O’Connell is the type of offensive-minded coach who could get the most out of Maye.

Fully anticipating Maye to still go in the top three, or sixth overall to the New York Giants at the latest. Guess we’ll find out in a couple years if my guy Merril and I are right to go against the grain on such a widely praised prospect.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock