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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
John Sigler

Saints’ scouts got a good look at Drake Maye in North Carolina-South Carolina

The New Orleans Saints’ college scouting department got a fast start to their 2024 NFL draft prep. And they were one of many pro teams on hand for one of the week’s most anticipated matchups: North Carolina’s rout of their major rival South Carolina.

The Tar Heel Tribune’s R.L. Bynum reports that the Saints were one of 19 NFL teams credentialed for seats in the press box at Bank of America Stadium. UNC quarterback Drake Maye was the marquee prospect, and there’s a good chance he lands in the NFC South next April. With the Arizona Cardinals going all in to tank for the first overall pick (and USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams), Maye is a more realistic target for needy division rivals like the Atlanta Falcons or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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But Maye had an up-and-down night in the Tar Heels’ big win. He completed 24 of 36 passes for a respectable 269 yards but threw as many interceptions as touchdown passes (2). He’ll need to protect the football more effectively to keep pro coaches off his back, even if he has a talented enough roster around him to get away with it at the college level.

He was hardly the only NFL prospect on the field. North Carolina senior linebacker Cedric Gray led his team with 9 tackles (3 solo, 1.5 tackles for loss) and 1.5 sacks, though junior tight end Bryson Nesbit was limited to 3 catches for just 22 receiving yards.

And let’s not forget the other sideline. Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler didn’t turn the ball over while completing 30 of his 39 pass attempts for 353 yards, but he also didn’t take advantage of scoring opportunities. His favorite target was senior wide receiver Xavier Legette, who broke out with the best game of his career — totaling 9 receptions for 178 yards, more than he’s ever had in an entire season. He’s listed at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds and did a great job using his size to fight for contested catches. He might be someone to keep tabs on as the college football season (and the long march towards the 2024 NFL draft) continues.

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