Beyond the first-tier of quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft class, the evaluation job becomes far more difficult for general managers still looking for a starting QB. While players like Deshone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and Deshaun Watson are more traditional passers, the next player on this list doesn't fit that mold.
Patrick Mahomes is the most polarizing quarterback in this year's class for many reasons. He’s interesting and fun to watch, but also very scary if he does not find the right fit in the NFL.
QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech (6-2, 225)
When looking at potential fits for the Chicago Bears, Mahomes isn’t your Week 1, “throw him in there and see what happens” type of player, which likely limits him to a second-day selection or a candidate for a team looking to trade back into the end of the first round.
The 21-year-old is a former baseball player and comes from a bloodline where his dad, Patrick Mahomes Sr., also played professional baseball for close to a decade. There are many passes that reflect his baseball background and the sample size is large, as Mahomes was a two-year starter with a lot of throws under his belt (1,349).
Full disclosure: I absolutely love Mahomes but the pros and cons are that of a Jekyll-and-Hyde player. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look into the craziness.
- Arm Talent: The first thing that pops while watching Mahomes on film is his arm. He has the ability to make 60-yard throws with a flick of his wrist. Easily the best arm from a strength standpoint in this class.
- Bloodline: His father was a former Major League Baseball pitcher and while it doesn’t relate directly to football, it’s positive trait, especially for a player looking to make a living out of throwing a ball.
- Athleticism: Mahomes' ability to extend plays with his athleticism and elusiveness is one of his elite traits. Once he’s outside the pocket, his arm becomes a huge factor.
- Physique: He’s not overly tall but a thick build and long limbs give him yet another quality trait.
- Improvements & Development: His completion percentage rose from 56.8 percent in limited role his first year, to 65.7 percent in his final year. When looking for development within college systems, this is a big indicator, much like it was for Dak Prescott.
- Quick Release: While mechanics will be addressed below, his release is solid, which will help his development down the road.
- Ball Placement/Accuracy: For as chaotic as he is, his ball placement and overall accuracy are in the Trubisky category, which is impressive, all things considered.
- Overall Mechanics: Mechanically, Mahomes is an absolute mess. Think Matthew Stafford coming out of college and multiply it by 10. Poor footwork and a highly inconsistent throwing motion top the list of massive flaws that will need to be coached out of Mahomes.
- Offensive System: Buyer beware on any quarterback coming from an Air-Raid system. While college products usually look great, it doesn’t normally translate well to the NFL-level due to predetermined reads, etc.
- Decision Making: As with most big-armed “gunslingers”, Mahomes' decision-making can often make you scratch your head. Part of it is the system and part of it is simply in his DNA as a passer, which leads most to believe it won’t be easily coached out of him.
- Majority of Snaps in Shotgun: As a byproduct of the Air Raid system, Mahomes took the large majority of his snaps out of shotgun.
Mahomes’ ceiling is arguably the highest of any quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck but it's going to be very difficult to reach his potential without the perfect fit.
Mechanically there’s a lot to work on but make no mistake, there is also a lot more to work with. This will make the overall evaluation for NFL teams difficult because his risk is just as high as his reward.
He has more than enough athletic ability to be a dual-threat signal caller at the next level and while he needs a lot of work, coaches must be mindful not to constrict his playing style. Much like Stafford, he will make a living off the abnormalities in his game.
Many are looking for the next Dak Prescott this year and while it’s not likely they'll find one, Mahomes might have even more upside. In many ways they are similar, particularly in terms of college development, but in terms of playing style and overall ability, they are on the same level.
Ultimately, I don’t see Mahomes as an ideal fit for the Bears simply because trusting Dowell Loggains with a high-risk, high-reward project like this could easily blow up in the team's face. He’d do good to sit behind an experienced veteran in an explosive West Coast offense for a year or two before taking the reigns of an NFL team.
Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)