With the Giants honing in on a top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, a candidate to go No. 1 overall, tosses around some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: Your thoughts on USC’s Caleb Williams?
A: Caleb is phenomenal, the way he makes plays, his ability to extend plays. I think his underrated thing is just dropping back and slinging it, I think he’s one of the best in the country at just dropping back and hitting open guys and reading the coverage. He’s a great player. I’ve thrown with him a while and a couple of times, and I think we both can make every throw on the field.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, where is your accuracy?
A: I don’t think a 10 is reasonable, you can always be more accurate unless you’re completing all your passes, so I’d say maybe high 8, 9 and some change. I feel confident in my ability to place it where I need to and under pressure. I don’t think 10’s realistic for me just because I’m trying to be realistic and know not every pass (chuckle) is gonna be right on the money, but I definitely think with an open guy or when you need it most and you need to thread the needle, I like my chances.
Q: 1-10, where is your decision-making?
A: I feel like I’m a smart football player, I don’t put the ball in jeopardy much. Had a few early on where I’d like to have back, you like to have kinda some plays back here and there, but [I] pride myself in taking care of the football, and Coach [Mack] Brown and Coach [Chip] Lindsey always preach that. So I’d say right there around the same, 9 and some change. At least a 9 for sure, maybe 9.5.
Q: 1-10, your football intelligence?
A: I’m always trying to learn, trying to soak up … I’m not gonna say I have all the knowledge in the world, but for a college quarterback, I like to say I’m pretty knowledgeable about the game. I love studying the game and kind of learning about new stuff. I’d say knowing the game I’d say about an 8.5, but just being out there and making plays, right around 9. Saying 10 is like some of the guys doing the greatest in the NFL.
Q: 1-10, mobility?
A: Obviously I think Kyler Murray and guys like Lamar [Jackson] are up there with the best of them. But I think same type of thing, being able to avoid sacks, kinda scramble for first downs, I think about an 8 is reasonable.
Q: Did your father teach you to throw?
A: Yes sir, my dad’s been my quarterback coach pretty much, he’s the one who’s been kind of watching me throw my whole life. He still gives me advice throughout the season, in the offseason he’s kind of the main watcher of me throwing. I trust him and his opinion. He’s the one that has seen me throw the most and fix my adjustments if I need to.
Q: What drives you?
A: I think just the competitive part of it, the competitive nature. Enjoying that winning feeling is one of the coolest things in sports, but just to hate losing, I think that’s what drives me. You work all this time, you spend all this time, and so many people pour into you, my parents, my family and coaches along the way, and just kind of that drive to make that useful in something. That feeling after losing, there’s nothing like it, just hate that. I feel like I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I wasn’t competing in something.
Q: A quote from your father: “Drake will drive you into the ground and not feel bad about it.”
A: Yes sir, that starts from a young age, being the youngest of four boys, three brothers beating up on me and at the same time they do it lovingly, it’s all brotherly love, but we had some reckless battles. Still to this day we try to get after it, but not as much physically because probably one of us will get hurt. It’s four of us are all about 6-5 or taller, all about 230 or heavier, so got some big dudes going at it, and we try to find ways like golf and pickleball, it’s not as gruesome anymore but we still get after it 1-on-1 in basketball.
Q: You were the smallest, right?
A: I had a really late growth spurt, I was the runt of the family for a while. I had about three brothers 6-5 or taller and I was about 5-8, 5-9.
Q: How did you handle getting beat up like that?
A: I was the instigator, kind of always picking fights and trying to make one of the brothers mad, so just getting up and just having to deal with it over and over. It’s how you get up, it’s how you respond.
Q: Another quote from your father: “If he’s up 50-0, he’s going to keep going and not feel bad about it at all.”
A: (Laugh) Yes sir, you gotta keep your foot on the neck, keep your foot on the pedal, or keep the, whatever, the hammer on the nail and keep hammering ’em down. Just putting ’em away. A lot of people kind of get comfortable when you’re up and got a lead, but the big thing is putting them away and playing till the end of the game or end of the score or until the other person quits (chuckle), whatever it takes.
Q: So how would you describe your on-field mentality?
A: Try to win mentally first as a quarterback, whether it’s preparation throughout the week, in-game adjustments, and after that, when the bullets start flying, go out there and compete, be tough and at the end of the day, try to out-tough them and try to be on the winning side, obviously.
Q: An example of your physical toughness?
A: At Pittsburgh, they’re known for being a tough and gritty team. We had a little trick play pass, our back to the tight end, and I got hit pretty hard. They checked me out real quick. I was out for a play or two and ended up coming back and then running in a touchdown.
Q: An example of your mental toughness?
A: Dealing with adversity as a human being, as a quarterback especially, that feeling of throwing an interception, that’s something you gotta throw away and just move on to the next play. Things aren’t gonna go your way all the time, so you gotta be able to handle it. Like I said, how you respond.
Q: Your leadership style?
A: It’s being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. My first year last year I was just trying to kind of make a name for myself as the starting quarterback, and this last year I’ve kind of took a larger leadership role for the offense. And not just on the offense. I was telling defense, they just put up a touchdown with 42 seconds left against Duke, we were down three at the end of the game, I went over to the defensive guys and said, “We’re gonna win this thing in overtime.” Went down there, kicked the field goal and won it on overtime. So just kind of keep the guys up, be all positive, I’m not gonna say much unless it’s needed to. I’m not gonna be one of those guys just saying words and yelling and screaming just for no reason.
Q: Biggest obstacle or adversity you had to overcome?
A: My senior year of high school football was taken away from COVID, and that spring they played in the spring, I graduated early and came here and I sat behind Sam [Howell]. So junior year of my high school was the last time I played a game until about two years later. I didn’t lose confidence, just kind of losing sight of really, “Man, can I still do it in the game, am I still the same player I was in high school with that same confidence?” I was really just practicing and throwing on my own.
Q: The criticism that bothered you the most?
A: Just out of high school. I feel like more people thought maybe he was kind of a pocket passer that just sat in there and kind of was a statue. I take it to heart being able to extend plays, make plays with my feet and hurt the defense when, shoot, everybody’s covered or try and scramble away from D-linemen. Just being that I won’t say dual threat but when you need to use legs and kind of hurt them with my feet. That’s a big thing that a lot of people didn’t think out of high school that I was gonna be able to translate to college.
Q: Boyhood idols?
A: In the latter part it was Aaron Rodgers, but as a kid I was a Panther fan, I loved Cam Newton, we had season tickets. Kind of even in high school probably Joe Burrow, what he’s done, and obviously watching all the greats, shoot, Tom Brady.
Q: What was it about Aaron Rodgers?
A: Just his swagger, his confidence, just the way he approached the game, could make every throw, and how he makes plays. My true idol is probably my brother Luke.
Q: What did you think when he went to the Jets?
A: I thought it was pretty dope. Kind of his time with the Packers was kinda running out. Him carrying the U.S. flag, I know he ended up getting hurt that Monday night, but that was a goose-bump feeling, that was pretty special.
Q: He’s talking about coming back next month.
A: I think he’s got the best feel for it, but that’d be an incredible comeback for him to do that and make a late-season playoff push, that’d be pretty cool.
Q: Didn’t you also like Tyler Hansbrough?
A: Yeah, big Psycho T, I’m a big fan of Tyler Hansbrough, he’s one of the great basketball players here, he’s arguably probably one of the best ever to play in college here. Kind of his mentality, you see all the bloody nose against Duke and all that stuff.
Q: Beating Duke.
A: Rival game for the Victory Bell, storming the field, it was a fairy tale ending. I enjoyed kind of ending with a bang against rival at home.
Q: How well do you know Daniel Jones?
A: Yes sir, yeah, I know Daniel pretty well, worked out with him a couple of times, we kind of have the same quarterback trainer called QB Country. Worked out with him in the summer, I remember strictly over COVID working out with him. He’s a good dude, and I think just battling injuries, he’s had a tough road this season but obviously he’s a great player.
Q: Your mentor, Sam Howell?
A: He’s been awesome. Sitting behind him a year and getting to see how he prepares, see how he handles people in the locker room, guys in the locker room, he’s a great locker-room guy, and just watching him do his thing, and the way he studied ball I think was the biggest thing, the way he prepares each week, no matter the opponent, he studies the same. He never shows too much emotion, never too high, never too low, and I think that goes back a long way.
Q: You can go back in NFL history for a shootout with any quarterback.
A: One of my favorites watching back in the day was John Elway. A guy like him, or obviously today’s age a shootout with Patrick Mahomes.
Q: What about Aaron Rodgers?
A: The plays he’d make I think I’d get too caught up in watching the throws he’s making. Aaron Rodgers kind of puts some quarterbacks in that awe moments, so try and avoid those (laugh) and stay in the focus and stay in rhythm.
Q: When brother Luke hit the shot in Memphis to send Carolina to the 2017 Final Four.
A: I was there in Memphis. One of the greatest moments of my life watching Luke do his thing. He took a lot of criticism of being an undersized 4-man, people thought he wasn’t athletic, and to prove people wrong, that was kind of his shining moment.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Michael Jordan; Abraham Lincoln; Kobe Bryant.
Q: Have you met Jordan?
A: I have met him a couple of times. Definitely the greatest to ever play basketball and one of the greatest athletes ever. He represents Carolina in a great fashion.
Q: Those Carolina-Duke basketball games.
A: Golly, yeah, they’re special, especially the ones at Cameron. If you’ve never made one, I’d really suggest you make one, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Having Luke play in there a couple of times, I made sure I went to those games. And even over here at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, that game’s special anytime Duke and Carolina face off.
Q: Your head coach, Mack Brown.
A: He’s great to play for. He just cares so much about us and wants to see us all succeed.
Q: Describe your father Mark.
A: My mom always jokes because she has to take care of five boys instead of four, including my dad. All he wants to see is what’s best for us and supports us no matter what. He can shift roles from being a coach and being hard on ya to the same time being loving and being almost like that brother-like dad that you always dream of. He’s a special dude.
Q: Describe your mom.
A: She’s the rock of the family. She always calls it our locker room and all the boy talk. She’s so supportive, she wouldn’t miss a game. Just seeing a smile on her face lights up the room.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Coach Carter.”
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Leonardo DiCaprio or Robert Downey Jr.
Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?
A: Jason Aldean.
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Chicken Alfredo … Cajun Alfredo.
Q: What are your thoughts on these mock drafts?
A: I don’t really pay attention to them much, obviously you hear them and people come up to you and ask about ’em, but really just focus on college ball.
Q: When do you plan on making a decision about you future?
A: Sometime in December, I’m sure.