Yeah, so it’s pretty well-established that I love the NFL Draft. I’m the guy that pours over hours of college tape to write up detailed scouting reports on the top-five prospects every year, and I’m also the guy who recently — and shamelessly — did a second-round mock draft. Judge all you want. I’m going to be who I am.
So if you think there’s any way the Chiefs could take a quarterback in the first round for the first time in 34 years, and The People’s Champ would not do a People’s Mailbag, you’re out of your mind. So without further ado, here it is.
When Sam and I first discussed the possibility of the Chiefs selecting a quarterback — which happened during Super Bowl week — I called Patrick Mahomes a less-polished Matthew Stafford, and I stand by the comparison. I always wondered what Stafford would have become had he been paired with a quarterback coach of Andy Reid’s caliber from the beginning; now I hope to get a sense. The arm talent is similar, and so is the tendency to throw from different platforms and arm angles. Mahomes also has a bit of the gunslinger Favre gene with the Tarkenton scrambling gene.
Never miss a local story.
At least one. Seriously. Don’t expect to see Mahomes this year after the preseason comes to a close. Even with a Smith injury, unless it comes later in the season, when Mahomes has a fuller command of the playbook. Listen, the kid is, by all accounts, very smart. There’s not much worry about his ability to recall Andy Reid’s long plays, even though he’s never had to spit them out before. But it will take time. I mean, it took Tyler Bray at least two years before he got a healthy command of the playbook.
I explained all this in my annual post-draft grades, but he’s worth the pick. I put a 6.9 grade on him in my predraft rankings, which means I expected him to be taken anywhere from No. 20 to No. 32 in the first round. But Mahomes also made my third annual all-juice team as my lone quarterback, so he’s also my favorite player at the position in the draft. I liked the aggression Chiefs general manager John Dorsey showed my moving up to get his guy, and I actually think the price — a third this year and a first next year — was very reasonable considering the talent of the player he acquired and the need. The Andy Reid Seal of Approval should be a huge deal for any fan concerned about the pick.
Bray will certainly get first crack at the No. 2 job, but I don’t think he’s a lock to earn it. The Chiefs will not rush Mahomes but his combination of arm talent, moxie and creativity will woo coaches, teammates and observers in flashes. Still, odds are on Bray to win the job, because Mahomes is only 21, a true junior in college, and he’s still a kid in many ways. He is eloquent, confident and charming, and I’ve heard he has a way of inspiring teammates, but he probably needs a true redshirt year, and I think the Chiefs know that.
I rated Watson as the draft’s No. 2 quarterback ahead of Mahomes (No. 4) in my predraft rankings, but those are a guesstimate at where I think each player will be taken, not necessarily my personal opinion. Watson has a proven pedigree, but I was personally concerned a tad about his ability to spit out plays when he stumbled some during his Gruden QB camp episode. Mahomes, on the other hand, was — like Watson and all the draft’s other top quatrterbacks — also grilled by the Chiefs’ coaching staff during his pre-draft visit on his ability to call plays, and I think it’s interesting that Dorsey made it clear that Mahomes was voted by the Chiefs’ coaching staff as the best of all of them when it came to that aspect. So in short, my guess is Mahomes’ superior arm talent and recall were huge factors in the decision.
Good point, but it’s the type of interceptions Mahomes sometimes threw. In the tape I watched of both men (at least six full games of each, by the way) Mahomes displayed a tendency to make really risky throws into coverage more than Watson, whose interceptions were move of the conventional variety (where he missed streaking underneath defenders, etc). Still, that’s a reasonable reminder that Mahomes — who had a 41-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio — really did a nice job protecting the football, considering how many times he threw it (591 in 2016 alone, the third-most in Division 1.)
Like I said a couple of questions ago, the Chiefs brought each of the draft’s top quarterbacks (and most of the mid-level ones, too) to their facility for pre-draft visits and grilled each of them for four to five hours on their mental ability to pick up the system. Mahomes, Dorsey said, was ranked No. 1 out of all of them.
Over, unless there’s an injury to Smith. And even then he might not play if Bray shows legitimate improvement during organized-team activities and training camp.
No. Santos was a Pro Bowl alternate last year so it’s not like he’s a scrub or something. The guy is a good kicker. By the way, he’s also a grown man. You don’t surrender your number for a rookie. I don’t care how touted he is.
If I even see 1 percent of that I swear I’m becoming the corporate champ. I’m not going to entertain this from you guys this year. I’m being serious. Alex Smith is still a top-16 quarterback, and his record the last four years (41-20) reflects that. There is no reason to rush Patrick Mahomes into the starting lineup. Not even after a (rare) bad Alex Smith interception, or a receiver tantrum after a missed shot downfield, or a checkdown on third-and-whatever. I don’t want to hear it from you guys.
By the way, this should be said: While I think it was a very smart move to draft Mahomes, the move does not mean Alex stinks all of a sudden. The dude is rock solid, and he does a lot of the things people take for granted, OK? He’s smart, he protects the football, he keeps the Chiefs out of bad situations and he checks them out of bad plays with efficiency.
There are a bunch of teams in this league that would be better off with him as a quarterback, and by the way, he still has room to grow. Trust me when I say this — he understands he has to take more shots downfield now, and he is as annoyed as anyone about his missed shots in the divisional-round loss to Pittsburgh. There’s a pretty good chance that that loss (not to mention seeing Mahomes sling it around on a daily basis) will likely make Smith a touch more aggressive, which could raise his ceiling some. The guy is competitive, and proud, and while he says he will help Mahomes — which he will — he’s NOT going to give his job away. Mahomes is going to have to take it. And in the end, if he can’t — even in 2018 — the Chiefs will be better off for that, both in the short term (as it relates to their Super Bowl hopes) and the long term.