Can Patrick Mahomes Be the Future of the Kansas City Chiefs?
It took the 27th pick, a 2017 third-round selection, and next year's first-round pick, but the Kansas City Chiefs landed their quarterback of the future -- and darling of the analytics community -- with Patrick Mahomes.
At the end of the 2014 season, Mahomes took the reins of the prolific Texas Tech passing offense away from Davis Webb. Over the team’s final three games, Mahomes managed to put up 14 touchdowns compared to only 2 interceptions. That includes an outburst of 6 touchdowns and nearly 600 passing yards in a narrow defeat to fifth-ranked Baylor, an in-state rival.
During his final two seasons, Mahomes continued to put up monster numbers. The zenith came last year in a late October game against Oklahoma in which Mahomes went 52 of 88 for 734 yards and 5 touchdowns, adding 2 more touchdowns on the ground.
Altogether, Mahomes owns a career QBR of 84.3, which places him in the 87th percentile, according to PlayerProfiler. Last year, he was the only passer in the nation to exceed 5,000 passing yards and one of just six to surpass 40 touchdown passes.
On the ground -- where sack yards are counted against college quarterbacks -- Mahomes only averaged 2.7 yards per carry but rushed into the end zone for double-digit touchdowns in each of his two seasons as a starter.
At the NFL combine, Mahomes stood out from an agility standpoint, thanks to a 92nd-percentile time in the 20-yard shuttle, in addition to an 83rd-percentile 3-cone time per MockDraftable.
However, it’s arm strength that really separates Mahomes from not only this draft class but also from many quarterbacks in the NFL. Mahomes has been clocked throwing 62 miles per hour on NFL Network. At his pro day, he uncorked a ball that traveled nearly 80 yards.
In high school, Mahomes also played baseball and was selected in the 2014 MLB Draft, thanks to a fastball that ranged 92 to 95 miles per hour during one dominant performance. You don’t have to look very far to see where Mahomes received all his gifts. His father was a big league pitcher for 11 seasons. Before one game in the 2000 World Series, a five-year old Patrick was photographed trying to catch balls during batting practice.
Despite unrefined footwork, Mahomes makes throws with touch and accuracy from a variety of angles while hopping around in the pocket or getting out on the run. Making improvisational plays is a tough way to make a living, but under the guidance of Andy Reid, Mahomes is likely be end up more Russell Wilson or Brett Favre than Jay Cutler.
Mahomes checks the boxes both in both the physical and production areas. However, the air raid-style passing offense has yet to yield much on the professional stage. Most recently, Jared Goff did very little to change hearts and minds once he finally got on the field last year. However, we have recently seen successful quarterbacks in Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota come from college systems in which they rarely, if ever, huddled or took the ball from under center.
Now Mahomes figures to see one, at most two seasons, behind Alex Smith -- who is under contract through 2018 -- to learn the Reid system and smooth out his game. Smith, by our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, has graded out as an above-average passer on a per-drop-back basis in four of the past five years but hasn't flashed top-10 upside in his career.
Smith could be released after this upcoming 2017 season for a reasonable hit of $3.6 million in dead money counted against the salary cap.
Once Kansas City makes the switch, Mahomes will have some impressive weapons waiting for him. At wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill are signed through 2019, plus the Chiefs possess an elite tight end through 2021 with Travis Kelce, the most prolific tight end in the NFL in 2016 based on Reception NEP.