Leadership? Chiefs’ Mahomes has it. But real-time NFL experience will take a while

Kliff Kingsbury on Patrick Mahomes

Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury on the development of his former quarterback, Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs.
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Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury on the development of his former quarterback, Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs.

Leadership chops is an unknown for Patrick Mahomes as he enters his first year as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

But one of his former wide receivers at Texas Tech said he believes the Chiefs are in good hands in that department.

“He commands the huddle,” said Ja’Deion High, a senior who spent two years with Mahomes in Lubbock. “If you mess up, he’s not going to get in your face unless he has to, and unless you keep messing up. He’ll make sure you know what you’re doing.”

Mahomes, who passed for 11,252 yards and 93 touchdowns in 32 college games, was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 2017. He appeared in one game last season, the Chiefs’ finale victory at Denver, and is now the team’s starter after Alex Smith was traded in the offseason.

No one questions Mahomes’ passing ability.

“He’s got what I call a crazy arm,” High said. “He throws from all kinds of positions. He throws that thing 80 yards, sidearm.”

But the inexperience is a real thing. Even former NFL executive and legendary scout Gil Brandt, an avowed Mahomes fan, throws up a caution flag.

“He will look really good at practice, and he’ll look good at training camp and the preseason games,” Brandt said. “But once you start the first game, it’s like going from second grade to being a graduate student at MIT.”

Brandt said he once asked former Cowboys safety Cliff Harris about the difference between camp and the regular season.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka praises work ethic and leadership of Patrick Mahomes.

“He said in camp they ran three defenses,” Brandt said. “Then, in the opener, they ran 51.”

A strong supporting cast — coach Andy Reid and a multi-weapon offense — will provide a big benefit to Mahomes, said those who attended Big 12 Media Days on Monday.

“Just taking to him this spring and where his knowledge of the offense was and his understanding, it sounds like he felt really good about things and the game has slowed down for him,” said Mahomes’ college coach, Kliff Kingsbury. “Just listening to him, he feels very comfortable about what’s going on.”