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Mock Draft Monday | Here's why Daniel Jeremiah thinks Washington should draft Drake Maye at No. 2

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye throws in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia State Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye throws in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia State Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.

It's a new year in a new era for the Washington Commanders, and they have a chance to start the Dan Quinn-Adam Peters regime off by taking one of the best players in college football.

The Commanders hold the No. 2 overall pick following a 4-13 finish to the 2023 season. After jumping out to a 2-0 start, the Commanders won only two games for the rest of the year and wrapped the season up with an eight-game losing streak, the longest in the league and the longest for the franchise since the 2013 season. But with them picking so high, the team will have their choice of whoever they want to name as the first player of Quinn and Peters' efforts to recalibrate the roster through the draft.

Most analysts anticipate that the Commanders will take a quarterback with the pick, and there are a variety of players to choose from if that is the path the team takes. However, they are still months away from making that decision, and there are several factors to consider. They could stay at No. 2, or they could trade the pick to move up or down, depending on whether the deal makes sense for them. They could also address other needs on the roster, whether it's offensive line, receiver or pass-rusher. 

In anticipation for that selection, will highlight one mock draft from a draft expert each week to delve into how that player would fit with Washington. We'll start off with NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, who has Washington taking one of the best quarterbacks on the board at No. 2.

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

The Commanders have dipped into the talent pool at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in previous years, taking wide receiver Dyami Brown in 2021 and quarterback Sam Howell in 2022. This year, most pundits predict the Commanders to do so for a third time in four years to take Drake Maye, one of the best signal-callers since he became the Tar Heels' starter as a redshirt freshman.

In his most recent mock draft, Jeremiah is the latest analyst to tab Maye to the Burgundy & Gold.

"I'm sure Washington will have attractive trade offers for this pick, but new general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn get their quarterback of the future," **Jeremiah wrote.**

You could hardly blame teams for at least trying to trade up to No. 2. Maye isn't considered the generational talent that many claim USC's Caleb Williams is, but his two seasons as a starter point to him having a successful NFL career.

Maye fits the typical mold for a modern NFL quarterback. He has the height (6-foot-4) and size (230), and while he does know how to win from the pocket, he does have splashes of the improvisation and scrambling that Williams and Jayden Daniels possess. It creates some electrifying moments, like his touchdown pass against Pittsburgh where he had to fight off a defender before completing the pass to Kobe Paysour, that can change momentum in his team's favor.

Maye is not a perfect prospect, but his best moments are difficult to top. For starters, no one has thrown more big time throws than Maye over the last two seasons with 45 in 2022 and 34 in 2023. If a team is looking for explosive plays in the passing game, Maye has shown plenty of that. He's thrown 28 touchdowns to just eight interceptions on passes of at least 20 yards over the past two seasons. He's had just nine turnover-worthy plays on 170 deep pass attempts.

"Maye possesses ideal NFL arm talent," wrote PFF's Trevor Sikkema. "He can hit just about any throw asked of him at the pro level with velocity and ball placement."

Whichever team does draft Maye won't have much to clean up, but there are some aspects of his game that need to be ironed out. He often struggled under pressure in 2023 -- a year that was objectively not as impressive as 2022 -- and ranked 97th when hurried with seven touchdowns and five interceptions to go with a completion rate of 43.3%. He does know how to win from the pocket, something he's more accustomed to than Daniels, but he does hold onto the ball longer than necessary to save plays. 

More troubling is his tendency to make throws while fading backwards to avoid pressure. It worked out for him in some moments, like his touchdown pass to J.J. Jones against Clemson, but in the NFL, that's a risk that most quarterbacks don't take.

"He can make every throw, but he will try to make throws that he shouldn't have attempted," **wrote’s Lance Zierlein.**

There's going to be a lot of variances in the beginning of Maye's NFL career. He's going to have moments that are puzzling and frustrating, but he's also going to follow that up with plays that elevate his offense. That's to be expected from a rookie, but if he can smooth out other aspects of his skill set, the traits that analysts are in love with will shine.

"The gunslinger mentality creates a fearlessness that can turn into interceptions, but it will also allow him to win in tight windows and make splash throws that get crowds (and evaluators) on their feet," Zierlein wrote.

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