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Curran: Pats need to find out about Drake Maye as a leader

There is a high probability the New England Patriots select Drake Maye to be their next franchise quarterback. Either he or LSU’s Jayden Daniels will be on the board when the Patriots are on the clock with the third overall pick in next month’s NFL Draft.

The Patriots sent a large contingent, which included head coach Jerod Mayo and de facto general manager Eliot Wolf, to Maye’s Pro Day on Thursday. The University of North Carolina signal-caller reportedly impressed Patriots staff and others in attendance, making a number of throws that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd.

That comes as little surprise. Maye is arguably the most physically gifted QB in the draft with a cannon for an arm. But as tempting as it may be for New England to jump at the chance to draft him, our Tom E. Curran believes the team must first find out how Maye handles adversity.

“I do think that they are allowing down in Foxboro for the fact that Drake Maye needs fundamental cleaning up,” Curran said on Thursday’s Boston Sports Tonight. “I do think that there was a lot of confirmation for the New England Patriots over the last two days with both of these prospects. They do continue to believe the floor is lower for Drake Maye, the ceiling is probably higher than it is for Jayden Daniels.

“But what they need to find out while they’re down there is, who is he with a 7-5 team? Was he a resilient leader with a team that sucked? Because we keep hearing how bad Carolina was last year and how bad the situation was for him and how much adversity he faced. Well, if that’s all that case, then you want to find out from his coaches, from his teammates, from the cafeteria staff, was this guy a dink or did he deal with it? Because the Patriots have emphasized as well it’s important to have a leader who’s not an eye-roller and doesn’t point fingers.”

Watch the exchange between Curran and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Mike Felger below:

Leading a team through tough times will be crucial for the next Patriots quarterback. Even if the next QB is “the guy,” it’ll likely be at least a couple of years before New England returns to contention. The rest of the roster still isn’t where Mayo’s group needs it to be.

The Patriots crumbled in the face of adversity through their last two seasons with 2021 first-round QB Mac Jones. After Jones’ encouraging rookie campaign, they went 8-9 and missed the playoffs in 2022 then a putrid 4-13 in 2023. Jones was benched midseason last year in favor of Bailey Zappe and traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason.

If Maye or Daniels end up in Foxboro, they’ll be expected to embrace the rebuild under the post-Bill Belichick regime. They’ll also need to be a “magnet” who can attract other players to the idea of building something special in New England.

Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft is set for April 25.

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