2024 draft scouting first impression: North Carolina QB Drake Maye

North Carolina QB Drake Maye entered the 2023 college football season as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. His first game of the season for the Tar Heels should only add a few more sparks to fire up Maye’s case.

Maye led UNC to a 31-17 win over rival South Carolina on Saturday night. It was a professional effort and outing from the highly-touted Maye, who began atop my own preseason QB rankings. The first half validated every positive attributed to Maye: accurate, athletic, savvy, creative and tough. He looked straight out of central casting for an Andy Reid or Gary Kubiak/Mike Shanahan offensive system. He was almost boring in his methodical slicing and dicing of the Gamecocks defense.

The second half got more interesting, but not necessarily in a good way for Maye in scouting eyes. He got a little flippant with the ball and his confidence in his arm.

Ironically enough, the Maye play that is being celebrated the most is one that will get spotlighted by some as a terrible decision. Maye avoided a sack by throwing off his back foot to loft a ball into the middle of the field for a contested catch opportunity.

It worked here. Betting on that to work consistently, if even once again, is probably not something most NFL coordinators want to see from Maye. Two interceptions came in the second half, where he got a little too cavalier in attacking under pressure.

It was an impressive night despite the mistakes. Playing without expected top receiver Tez Walker, Maye played no favorites with his targets and consistently hit receivers exactly where the ball needed to be. The shifting arm angles, the athletic escapability, the ability to quickly move past an error all stood out for Maye.

Story originally appeared on Draft Wire