2024 Rookie Faceoff: Drake Maye v JJ McCarthy

Rookie quarterbacks are far from an exact science when trying to evaluate them for fantasy football. In this edition of the 2024 Rookie Faceoff, we compare two quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Drake Maye v JJ McCarthy. To see where they both fall in our rankings, check out our Rookie Rankings Page. Also, check out the 2024 NFL Draft coverage to stay up-to-date. For the sake of this faceoff, we will be comparing the prospects in seven categories. Size, speed and rushing ability, arm strength and accuracy, throw mechanics, college production, and college QB rating as well as draft capital and landing spot as well as draft capital and landing spot. This faceoff features two of the most polarizing prospects in this draft class. Both are younger than some of the other quarterbacks in this draft class and are somewhat mysterious in their NFL potential. Let’s dive into the 2024 Rookie Faceoff: Drake Maye v JJ McCarthy.

Meet Drake Maye

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Drake Maye was selected third overall by the New England Patriots after a collegiate career with the North Carolina Tar Heels. He is a polarizing prospect. Whether it be his landing spot or helping scout him during college, most experts can’t seem to agree on what he is. He is just 21.8 years old and had a solid breakout age of 20.0 years old in college which is good for the 67th percentile. He is your big, strong, prototypical quarterback in the frame of Ben Roethlisberger, but some are unsold on him because of his decision-making and overall inconsistency. As of now, Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo says that Maye will be competing with veteran Jacoby Brissett for the Week 1 starters job. The Patriots didn’t draft him third overall to have him back up a mediocre veteran, expect Maye to be the starter from training camp on.

Meet JJ McCarthy

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JJ McCarthy is the mystery box of fantasy football quarterbacks. He won a National Championship with The University of Michigan in 2024 and displayed a track record for being a winner. However, due to the offense that the Wolverine’s head coach ran, we never really got to see him perform in all areas. As a result, there are a great deal of things that we are unsure if McCarthy can do or not. He could be a future top-five fantasy quarterback, or he could be a career backup. He is also only 21.3 years old, so his youth and inexperience, combined with his sheltered play style leave tons of uncertainty with exactly what he can become. He ran an elite 3-cone Drill at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. His 6.82 second time was 93rd percentile and displayed his elite agility. Much like Maye he had a great college breakout age, slightly better than Maye at 19.6 years old, good for the 80th percentile.

Player Comparables

The two-player comparisons I chose here will not leave you particularly hopeful for either player’s future. Maye’s profile has him closest to former New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, while McCarthy is closest to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Clayton Tune. Neither player has enjoyed much success to this point in their career, but both have shown some unrealized potential. Hopefully, these two can overachieve their player comps. For now, let’s take a look at the 2024 versions of them to see if one stands out more than the other.

Size Comparison

As usual, this category is cut and dry, Maye checks in at 6’4″ and 223 lbs. JJ McCarthy on the other hand checks in at 6’2″ and 219 lbs. This one is a clear victory for Maye as he is two inches taller and four lbs heavier.

I mentioned above, that Drake Maye is your prototypical big-bodied quarterback with monster height and weight. He is exactly what you would want out of your quarterback and has the potential to follow a Ben Roethlisberger-like trajectory. JJ McCarthy on the other hand, possesses solid size for a quarterback but is slightly smaller than Maye.

Size will not be a concern for either quarterback as they are both big enough to play in any role that they see fit without fear of elevated injury risk.

The winner here is Drake Maye.

Winner: Drake Maye (1-0)

Speed Comparison

As far as speed goes, Drake Maye runs a projected 4.60 second 40-yard Dash. JJ McCarthy checks in with a 4.60-second 40-yard Dash. This is the first time in this series that we have a tie but with both quarterbacks running a 4.60, there isn’t a fair way to choose a winner

The only thing to keep in mind here is that Drake Maye did not run at the NFL combine or UNC Pro Day and instead, we are using a prior college 40-yard Dash result on record. We know McCarthy’s exact speed, Maye’s exact speed is more of an estimate, but we estimate them to be equal.

Winner: Tie (1-0-1)

Arm Strength/Accuracy

This is our third head-to-head category and is a decisive win for Drake Maye. He grades out at 83% in the short area of the field, 92% in the intermediate area of the field, and 91% on deep throws. All this for an average grade of 89% across all areas of the field.

JJ McCarthy graded out as 79% on short throws, 90% on intermediate throws, and 91% on deep throws. He received an overall grade of 87% across all areas of the field.

Drake Maye narrowly edges out McCarthy on short throws, 83 to 79. Maye also scored a 92 to 90 victory on intermediate throws. The final area of the field was deep throws, with both quarterbacks grading out at 91 for a tie.

Overall we have Maye being better in the short and intermediate areas of the field, with them being equal on deep throws, so we give this one to Maye overall.

Winner: Drake Maye (2-0-1)


As things start to get one-sided in this faceoff, we compare them based on release point and throwing mechanics.

Both quarterbacks were well above average in this category. Drake Maye scores 86% on release point and 80% on throwing mechanics for an overall grade of 83%. JJ McCarthy graded out 82% for release points and 80% for throwing mechanics with an overall grade of 81%.

Yet another category that awards the point to Maye. He narrowly beats out McCarthy on both release point and throwing mechanics. It’s a shame for McCarthy that he loses his best category to date, but once again, Maye is just slightly better all-around. The win goes to Maye.

Winner: Drake Maye (3-0-1)

College Production

Boy was this category a massacre. Bearing in mind that Michigan was far less reliant on McCarthy and ran a run-heavy offense, this is still easily in the win category for Maye.

JJ McCarthy played three seasons at Michigan, in two of them he posted at least 2,500 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and less than five interceptions. McCarthy’s best season was 2,991 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Overall, during his collegiate career, he produced a total of 6,226 passing yards, 49 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Drake Maye played three seasons at North Carolina, in two of them he posted at least 3,600 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and less than 10 interceptions. Maye’s best season was 4,321 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. During his collegiate career, he produced a total of 8,018 passing yards, 63 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.

So, it’s easy to see a winner here. Maye had two seasons that were better than McCarthy’s best season of production. The best season overall was far better for Maye with more than 1,300 passing yards and 16 touchdowns more. Very rarely do I compare career-long stats, but in this class they both played a comparable level of games and yet again Maye wins easily by more than 1,800 passing yards and 14 touchdowns.

Winner: Drake Maye (4-0-1)

College QBR

Finally! A category won by JJ McCarthy! In a straight-up head-to-head college comparison, we see McCarthy posting a QB Rating of 89.2, while Maye posted a QB Rating of 81.0.

This may not be a massive win for McCarthy, but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers and McCarthy should just be happy to avoid the shutout.

This category is simply number vs number, and in this category, we have a JJ McCarthy victory.

Winner: JJ McCarthy (1-4-1)

Landing Spot & Draft Capital

The draft capital category is an easy one to decide as always, since it’s just simple numbers. Maye went third overall in comparison to McCarthy going tenth overall. We will award the first half of this category to Maye, albeit it is a negligible win as both secured the coveted top-ten draft capital.

After a narrow win by Maye for draft capital, we have a massive win for McCarthy on the landing spot. Maye goes to a Patriots team with a new coaching staff, limited weapons, and in the beginnings of a rebuild. McCarthy on the other hand, goes to a Vikings team loaded with weapons and known for being a pass-first team. One thing is certain in this fit, we are going to see very quickly what McCarthy looks like when the ball is finally put in his hands.

This category goes to McCarthy as the draft capital is negligible and the difference in landing spot is massive. This category is simply the difference between Minnesota and New England.

Winner: JJ McCarthy (2-4-1)

And the Winner is…

It’s no surprise here that Drake Maye is the winner of this faceoff. Maye has shown infinitely more during his college career, while McCarthy as I stated is the ultimate fantasy football mystery box.

If we are going simply by the numbers, Maye runs away from McCarthy and it’s not particularly close. For those of you, like myself who have been drafting JJ McCarthy over Drake Maye, you will be doing so based solely on projection. You will need to believe that McCarthy can develop into a well-rounded quarterback and that he was a victim of the Jim Harbaugh system and not being protected by it.

On an analytical basis though, Maye is your winner here 4-2-1.

If you would like to learn more about Maye and McCarthy, check out our 2024 Rookie Sneak Peek videos of both players on The Fantasy Football Universe Podcast.

Drake Maye UNC
JJ McCarthy Michigan
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