Latest on Patriots' interest in Drake Maye as NFL Draft nears

Latest on Patriots' interest in Drake Maye as NFL Draft nears originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots are leaving no stone unturned while scouting quarterbacks ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft.

They've already met with UNC's Drake Maye, LSU's Jayden Daniels and Michigan's J.J. McCarthy and reportedly spent time Monday night with Washington's Michael Penix Jr., who should be available later in the first round if New England trades out of the No. 3 pick.

But there's one player who's been consistently linked to the Patriots for much of the pre-draft process. And NFL Network's Peter Schrager shared some interesting intel on that player in his first official 2024 NFL Mock Draft, which has New England selecting Maye at No. 3 overall after Caleb Williams and Daniels go first and second, respectively.

"Despite lots of smoke that New England could trade down, I believe this new Patriots regime will be comfortable with either Jayden Daniels or Maye," Schrager wrote. "Pats brass took Maye out for steaks the night before his Foxborough visit earlier this month, and those guys loved the Charlotte native."

Schrager noted that the Patriots also loved their visit with Daniels and suggested de facto general manager Eliot Wolf and his staff would be "fine with whichever one falls to them" between Daniels and Maye. And despite recent buzz about New England's interest in McCarthy -- which appears to be very real -- Schrager sees the Patriots' selection at No. 3 coming down to Daniels or Maye.

While the 21-year-old Maye is a bit raw compared to the 23-year-old Daniels, he impressed the Patriots at the NFL Scouting Combine with his "alpha" personality and positive energy in interviews, according to our Phil Perry. Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo admitted Maye had a "fantastic" combine interview with the team and suggested there's "no ceiling" for the 6-foot-4, 230-pound QB.

It's easy for coaches to hype up prospects in interviews, but Maye has been a very popular mock draft choice for the Patriots at No. 3 for several weeks. ESPN's Mel Kiper has been consistent in projecting Maye to New England at No. 3, while Perry's most recent seven-round Patriots mock draft pairs Maye with his college teammate, UNC wide receiver Devontez Walker.

The Patriots are somewhat at the mercy of the Washington Commanders, who hold the No. 2 pick and reportedly have met with Maye, Daniels, McCarthy and Penix as well. If the Commanders take McCarthy, for example, New England would face a difficult decision between Daniels and Maye.

But if Daniels is off the board and Maye is available at No. 3, many experts believe the UNC star will be making his way to Foxboro.