Commanders Mock Draft: Replacing one UNC QB with a different UNC QB

Sam Howell and Drake Maye shared a locker room at North Carolina. Now, in our latest Commanders mock draft, Maye replaces Howell yet again as the QB1.
Nov 25, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10)
Nov 25, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Commanders find themselves in a precarious position. Second-year quarterback Sam Howell has shown flashes of elite play behind center. However, on the other end of the spectrum, multiple plays on tape cannot be excused, including a league-leading 14 interceptions.

Now, I know what you are thinking. The Commanders are on pace to allow the most sacks in NFL history; no one can succeed behind that porous offensive line. To that I say, fair. Add in how dismal the defense has been on a weekly basis, and the chips are stacked against Howell.

But, if a franchise is picking inside the top five, as Washington currently is slated to do, all options should be on the table. Has Howell shown enough to justify passing on Caleb Williams or Drake Maye? There’s an argument to be made that he has, but this mock draft explores the possibility that the Commanders replace their Week 1 starter.

Washington Commanders Mock Draft: Drake Maye Replaces Sam Howell

In today’s mock draft, we will use the current order at Tankathon to assess where each team will select. For Washington, this puts them at the No. 4 overall spot — and it bears mentioning that the front office will have an extra second and third-rounder at its disposal. Without further ado, the Commanders are on the clock…

Round 1, No. 4 — Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

This mock draft will not have any trades, which gives the Commanders a realistic shot at the second quarterback off the board. With the Bears taking Marvin Harrison Jr., the Patriots taking Caleb Williams, and the Cardinals taking Olu Fashanu, that leaves a North Carolina quarterback as the replacement for a former North Carolina quarterback.

Maye, unlike Howell, stands at a physically imposing 6-foot-4 and weighs 229 pounds. He checks the boxes in measurements, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Tar Heel star has an impeccable deep ball, is a surgeon from within the pocket, and boasts deceptive agility as a runner in space.

He has long strides that eat up yards when Maye tucks and runs, and his improvisation skills outside the pocket are something to marvel at. The young signal-caller flashes elite ball placement more often than not, and although his interception total in 2023 (9) is concerning, the overall decision-making is great.

The Commanders must upgrade the offensive line to make the most of Drake Maye. I understand fans that have grown to love Sam Howell, but it would be hard to pass up a higher-upside option if Maye is sitting there at No. 4 overall. Washington hopes to never select this high again, so there’s no better time to attack the quarterback position than now.