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Patriots Combine Notebook: Intel on Drake Maye, McAdoo's role and more

Patriots Combine Notebook: Intel on Drake Maye, McAdoo's role and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

INDIANAPOLIS -- After five days at the NFL Scouting Combine, picking the brains of league sources at all levels, here are some of the most noteworthy Patriots-related takeaways:

Maye wins the first impression

Throughout combine week, there is a mess of quantifiable information gathered that can impact a player's standing in the eyes of teams. Forty times. Vertical jumps. Medical grades. But one of the most important events for the soon-to-be pros in Indy were their interviews with teams.

There are no publicly-available results for those, of course, the way there are for the athletic tests broadcast on NFL Network. But it's worth pointing out that the Patriots felt as though it was North Carolina's Drake Maye who conducted the most impressive quarterback meeting of the week, thanks to the energy and intelligence he displayed in his 20-minute back-and-forth with New England brass.

Maye has prototypical size (he measured in at 6-foot-4, 223 pounds this week) to go along with a big arm and good athleticism. He has shown a propensity for making ill-advised throws, and on tape alone he would probably rank third in this year's class behind USC's Caleb Williams and LSU's Jayden Daniels. Scouts ding Maye for spotty decision-making, inconsistent mechanics and some apparent confusion when it comes to protection plans.

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But Maye's supporters believe a change in the UNC offense last year did the young passer no favors and that the best indicator of what he'll be as a pro is his 2022 tape, when he completed 66 percent of his passes and threw 38 touchdowns. If Maye can clean up some of his recurring mistakes, it's widely believed that the 21-year-old has the skill set to be a top-tier starter at the next level.

Though his combine interview was only a first impression, the Patriots won't write off his personality as an unimportant trait. At the quarterback position, if you want your teammates to play for you, you better bring some enthusiasm to your job.

It's early in the getting-to-know-you process, but with a strong interview last week, Maye showed New England he has a chance to check that box as a pro.

Daniels draws big-time comps

Jayden Daniels is considered a much more laid-back personality compared to Maye. How does the San Bernardino, Calif., kid get players to play for him, then? By making plays.

He racked up a whopping 90 plays of 20 yards or more last season for the Tigers, with his reserved-but-determined manner winning over players and coaches alike in his second season in Baton Rouge.

For a team in transition, a special talent could be what sparks a more rapid rebuild, and Daniels is considered that kind of quarterback. Multiple evaluators this week told NBC Sports Boston that Daniels was a more polished passer than Lamar Jackson when Jackson was drafted out of Louisville in 2018.

There are questions among NFL coaches as to how Daniels -- who is from California and played at Arizona State and LSU -- would adapt to the playing conditions in New England. It's my understanding there are those in his camp who prefer Daniels doesn't end up in the Northeast.

But the choice isn't his, and if he's available with the third overall pick? He could find himself driving down Route 1 with the heat on full blast in about eight months.

Patriots still working through QB process

It ain't rocket science: If the Patriots have conviction in the quarterback who falls to them at No. 3 overall -- likely Maye or Daniels -- then that will be their pick. But they are still going through the process of finding out where their conviction level sits for the top passers in the draft after having just met them for the first time in Indy last week.

If the Patriots don't have the faith they'd need in Maye or Daniels to take one of them at No. 3? Then that's when you could see them trade out, move back, and build by acquiring extra draft capital. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has fans in the building -- he seems to be the consensus fourth quarterback in the class from those I've spoken to -- and could be in play in a trade-down situation if he's not already off the board.

It's worth noting that if Eliot Wolf brings the "Packer Way" to Foxboro, that might mean going with a lineman over a wide receiver in a trade-back scenario. Some of the best wideouts in Packers history -- Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings -- were second-round picks. The Packers haven't taken a receiver in the first round since Javon Walker in 2002.

Wolf expected to stick

While still carrying the title of Director of Scouting, it's assumed by sources with the team and by executives with other clubs that Wolf will remain the leader of a collaborative front office -- including input from Mayo and his staff, Matt Groh, Pat Stewart, Alonzo Highsmith, Steve Cargile, Cam Williams and others -- even after the draft.

The Patriots are planning on conducting interviews following the draft, sources indicate, and there will be eminently-qualified general manager candidates interested in the lead personnel position in Foxboro. But Wolf, 41, is universally considered qualified himself.

He's been given final say on the 53-man roster by Robert Kraft, should there be any disagreement on front-office decisions, and he's been allowed to bring on Highsmith (who worked with Wolf in Green Bay and Cleveland) as a senior personnel executive.

Wolf also will be making key calls on the roster -- the team has about $100 million in cap space and three picks inside the top 70 -- which is why those on the outside looking in presume something drastic would have to occur for Wolf not to be leading the charge for the Patriots personnel department come the fall.

He's charting the course for the franchise for the next few years with the decisions he'll be overseeing in the next few months.

Tags still in play

The Patriots have a decision to make. Will they use the franchise or transition tags on either Kyle Dugger or Mike Onwenu? Those are the two players worthy of consideration, and it's my understanding that the tag has not yet been ruled out as a means for keeping either player.

The franchise tag for safeties this year is projected to be $17.1 million. The transition tag -- which would give the Patriots the right of first refusal to match an offer for their tagged player -- comes in around $13.8 million.

The franchise tag for linemen this year is just a shade under $21 million. The transition tag, meanwhile, will be $19 million.

Onwenu is representing himself after recently parting ways with his representatives. If he's not retained, the Patriots likely would be looking for answers at three starting offensive line positions. David Andrews at center and Sidy Sow at guard are deemed to be the lone healthy starting-caliber options under contract. Otherwise, they have work to do in order to buttress that unit.

There is optimism in Foxboro that some of the team's more under-the-radar free-agents-to-be can be retained. Tight end Pharaoh Brown could commit to a return in the near future. Linebacker Mack Wilson is another player who still has fans in the building.

McAdoo's role in focus

Ben McAdoo will take on a variety of responsibilities for the Patriots as a senior offensive assistant. He'll chip in on personnel. He has the ability to help coach a variety of positions given his diverse background. It also looks like he'll be coordinating the team's running game.

Offensive line coach Scott Peters is thought to be one of the best in the league when it comes to teaching technique. But in today's NFL it is common to employ both an offensive line coach and a run-game coordinator. The Patriots considered bringing aboard longtime NFL offensive line coach James Campen in for that role, but indications are that McAdoo will shoulder those responsibilities, helping new Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

McAdoo has served as assistant offensive line coach (49ers, 2005), tight ends coach (Packers, 2006-11), quarterbacks coach (Packers, 2012-13; Jaguars, 2020), offensive coordinator (Giants, 2014-15; Panthers, 2022) and head coach (Giants 2016-17) during his time in the NFL.