The NFL Draft is perceived differently depending on your team of choice. For Kansas City Chiefs fans, these proceedings are a cherry on top of the towering sundae the franchise has constructed. The Gang Green are busting with excitement now that the New York Jets have a sturdier wall of protection to shield Aaron Rodgers from any additional harm. And New England Patriots fans are just grateful that a new day is officially dawning in Boston, nay Foxborough.

Obviously, that does not mean success is around the corner, or even guaranteed at all. The offense could continue to flounder under a defensive-minded head coach and largely unproven pass-catchers. The future could be just as torturous as the recent past. But Pats Nation is relishing the uncertainty of the Drake Maye era after being subjected to a historically awful offense last season.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft is resuscitating a fan base that was begging for a reason to be optimistic for the next campaign. Although there is more agony and bad football ahead, the Patriots' mission to return to relevancy and cease being a laughing stock is underway.

As these last few years have shown, no amount of championship pedigree, Hall of Fame coaching and defensive toughness can overcome a barren QB and offensive situation. Maye is now tasked with becoming the immovable building block around which New England can develop and expand.

A successful first year in the NFL will be instrumental in ensuring that this ultimate objective comes to pass. Although everyone is still getting to know the 2024 draft class, we are going to look ahead. Let's dive into some early predictions for the rookie season of Drake Maye.

Patriots' Drake Maye will sit at least six weeks next season

Washington Commanders quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) throws the ball during the second half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Patience is a virtue. The Patriots must keep this proverb in mind this year as it relates to the former North Carolina star. Top-three picks are not typically seen as projects, but Maye has some kinks to work out before he can ascend towards the high ceiling many scouts are projecting for him.

There could understandably be a sense of urgency for New England to quickly insert the 21-year-old (turns 22 in August) into this offense, especially considering that the team is in a loaded conference and coming off back-to-back losing seasons. Owner Robert Kraft needs to let this process play out gradually if need be, though.

First-year head coach Jerod Mayo cannot afford to be burdened with pressure during a transitional season. Throwing a rookie quarterback into the fire can cause irreparable damage to his development. But if it is absolutely necessary, then the onus is on the franchise to instill him with the necessary preparation and support so he can at least have a fighting chance.

The Patriots should view the catastrophic handling of Bryce Young in 2023 as a cautionary tale. While the roster is better than the Carolina Panthers' was a year ago, there are still a number of holes that can impede his advancement. Luckily, Jacoby Brissett has plenty of experience dealing with sub-optimal NFL conditions.

Maye experienced his share of adversity and limitations on the Tar Heels, and it did not reflect particularly well in his statistics last season (passing yards and touchdowns notably dipped). Brissett can hold his own well enough to not be a sacrificial lamb for the Patriots while also allowing Drake Maye to hone his accuracy and footwork.

Maye will be sacked a ton

Regardless of what people think about Maye's ceiling, the consensus is that he will endure growing pains galore in the early portion of his NFL career. I am in lockstep with that notion, at least when it comes to the second word of that phrase. There will be pain aplenty for the 6-foot-4 signal-caller, as he becomes a bit more familiar with the ground than he prefers.

The Patriots sneakily added some impressive depth on the offensive line, both in free agency and in the NFL Draft. Though, the unit could still be a source of anxiety for fans. If a viable left tackle candidate does not emerge, Maye is going to come face-to-face with one pass rusher after another.

Aside from an unpredictable and banged-up O-Line, there is a specific reason why the Huntersville, North Carolina native might inadvertently take a bunch of sacks. And it is actually a somewhat positive one. Arguably the biggest worry surrounding this talented prospect is his decision-making process. He forced passes into places they had no business going, resulting in nine interceptions in 12 games last season. I believe those reckless heaves will begin to decrease this year.

Through the persistence of Mayo and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, Drake Maye will ideally resist the temptation to play “hero ball” as much as he did with the Tar Heels. A consequence of kicking that bad habit could be the emergence of another. With improved timing and chemistry, however, that issue can also be resolved.

The rookie will throw double-digit touchdown passes

 North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) throws a pass to wide receiver J.J. Jones (not pictured) for a touchdown against Clemson Tigers defensive tackle Tyler Davis (13) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium.
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies who are thrust into shaky offensive situations naturally stumble in their first few weeks of action, if not the entirety of their first year. Bryce Young tossed 11 touchdowns in 16 starts for the Panthers last season and Will Levis managed only eight behind the Tennessee Titans' feeble offensive line.

Although New England should have a more favorable support system than both of those teams, there are enough uncertainties on this offense to give Maye an uninspiring TD-interception ratio. But I think the benefit of observing Jacoby Brissett from the sidelines will lead to the 2022 ACC Player of the Year being sharper in the pocket.

With the added knowledge, composure and preparedness he should have, coupled with the presence of intriguing pass-catchers like Kendrick Bourne, DeMario Douglas, Ja'Lynn Polk and Javon Baker, Maye has a good shot at eclipsing 10 scores through the air even in the abbreviated sample size I am predicting for him.

He is not going to produce C.J. Stroud-like stats, but this rookie should leave Patriots fans feeling hopeful about the future. And that, more than anything, is what the 2024-25 campaign should be about for Drake Maye.