Commanders tipped to start fresh with another North Carolina quarterback

Will the Commanders go with another Tar Heel under a new regime?

Drake Maye
Drake Maye / Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Washington Commanders start their exciting new era by selecting quarterback Drake Maye in the 2024 NFL Draft?

We are a long way from the 2024 NFL Draft. Prominent evaluation events have yet to take place. Visits and interviews have yet to be completed. And yet, speculation continues to rise about what the Washington Commanders will do with their top-three selection when the time comes.

As it stands right now, the Commanders hold the No. 2 overall selection. That could change depending on what transpires in Week 18. For now, all signs point to the new regime being in pole position to select one of the top two quarterback prospects emerging from the college ranks.

Caleb Williams coming home to spearhead his boyhood team would be an incredible story. However, this scenario is dependent on what the Chicago Bears do with their second No. 1 pick in as many seasons after their bombshell trade with the Carolina Panthers in 2023.

Commanders could hit the reset button with Drake Maye

Although Justin Fields is making a strong case to remain under center, Connor Livesay from The 33rd Team went with Williams to the Bears in his latest mock draft. This left the Commanders picking Drake Maye, who could easily be the better of the two after an exceptional college career of his own.

"Somehow, the Washington Commanders cannot get away from Sam Howell. A week after announcing Howell’s benching, Jacoby Brissett suffered a hamstring injury in practice leading up to their week 17 game against San Francisco, forcing Howell back into the lineup. Washington is all but announcing they will be in the quarterback market this offseason, and picking second overall locks them into one of the two top quarterbacks."

Connor Livesay, The 33rd Team
Drake Maye / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get one thing clear, Maye is not a consolation prize if the Commanders miss out on Williams. He is an exceptional pocket passer. He has the mobility to escape pressure with relative comfort. He makes smart decisions and elevates others around him.

Maye has a cannon for an arm. The promising signal-caller makes effortless throws at all three levels. The mechanics are right where they need to be. He's got proven credentials in clutch situations. All of these traits look easily transferable to the next level.

Some flaws must be rectified. Maye's footwork needs some polishing. Decision-making under pressure is another minor cause for concern. But there is a lot more good than bad when examining his prospects as the Commanders' next franchise quarterback.

If the Commanders' newly-appointed decision-makers - whoever they might be - decide Maye is the guy, they must solidify the protection around him. It might also be worth keeping Sam Howell around to smooth his transition.

Howell and Maye formed a close friendship during their time together as teammates. Having a strong bond already in place would avoid any awkwardness and allow for a cohesive relationship within Washington's quarterback room in Year 1 of their substantial rebuild.

Maye has the tools, there's no getting away from that. Another guarantee is the fact Washington will get a new man under center once key appointments are confirmed. Unfortunately for Howell, his regression over the second half of 2023 leaves the new regime with no other option.

It'll be a fascinating offseason. This is the biggest roster complication to solve above all else.