Patrick Mahomes, the strong-armed gun-slinger from Texas Tech who became the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick on Thursday, has heard the knocks on his game and has a response to them all.
Little historic success by college Air Raid quarterbacks in the NFL?
“It definitely motivates you, it kind of gives you that chip on the shoulder to go out and prove people wrong,” Mahomes said.
Losing record (13-16) as a starting college quarterback despite an offense that averaged more than 44 points over two seasons?
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“You’ve got to find ways to win,” Mahomes said. “It was my mindset going on the field you were always expected to score.”
But in one area, beyond his size and arm strength, Mahomes doesn’t seem to get credit for an advantage he brings to his NFL career.
More than many college quarterbacks, Mahomes was given freedom to control his offense. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury trusted Mahomes with decision making when it came to changing plays and pass routes.
“He tried to help me out early,” Mahomes said. “As I got into my sophomore and junior years he let me have full control of changing plays. I could change some protections.
“He let me control the offense. I felt like it helped me a ton, especially as I transition into the NFL. I know there’s going to be a lot to learn and a lot I have to work on. But I feel like it helped me to have that control.”
The Chiefs also believe this experience should help Mahomes take the next step in his career.
“That’s a positive,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “To change things at the line of scrimmage if he needed, to have control of the offense, it doesn’t take you long when you watch him to have an idea of what he’s about.”
Reid emphasized on Friday, as Mahomes and his family were introduced at the team’s training complex, that the No. 10 overall pick — the Chiefs moved up 17 spots in a trade with the Bills to grab him — is the franchise’s quarterback of the future.
Veteran Alex Smith is next year’s starter. He’ll turn 33 next month.
“The great thing is we’ve got a quarterback that’s done phenomenal things for us here,” Reid said. “If you remember four years ago, the Chiefs probably weren’t the best team in the NFL. Alex comes in, makes everybody around him better, and we win games.”
Smith is 41-20 as a Chiefs starter, taking over a year after the Chiefs finished 2-14. But when Smith’s days in Kansas City are over, Reid believes the Chiefs have acquired their successor.
“We feel very comfortable with Alex,” Reid said. “The reality is, all guys get a little older, although I think he can play at a great efficiency level.
“But it gives this kid an opportunity to be tutored. And that (quarterback) room is so important. The coaches, the players he surrounded with. And that’s a beautiful thing for the city, to know when Alex is done, they have a young guy coming up that can win football games.”