It was no secret when the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to the No. 10 pick in last year’s NFL draft that they were taking Patrick Mahomes to be their quarterback of the future.
But nobody expected his tenure to start like this. The Chiefs pulled of a rare Super Bowl-week stunner, reportedly agreeing Tuesday evening to a deal to send quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller.
In steps Mahomes, perhaps a bit ahead of schedule, to take the helm of the defending AFC West champions.
So who his Mahomes?
He’s an athletic gunslinger touted for his huge arm who put up monster numbers at Texas Tech playing in the wide open Big 12.
A second-team All Big-12 quarterback in 2016 behind 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, Mahomes finished his final season in Lubbock leading the FBS with 421 passing yards per game. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound quarterback totaled 5,052 passing yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on a 65.7 percent completion rate in 2016. He also scored 22 touchdowns on the ground in three years as a Red Raider.
He put his athleticism and arm on display for the Chiefs during the preseason last year.
— NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2017
NFL Network compared Mahomes’ skills to Brett Favre’s with a fearlessness to match his big arm in its draft profile. That same profile noted that, like Favre, Mahomes has a tendency to look for the big play too much, which can lead to trouble.
“He’s got a great arm, big balls and he’s mobile,” an NFC executive told NFL Network. “He is going to drive his head coach crazy for the first couple of years and there is no getting around that. If it clicks for him and he’s coachable, I think he could become a special quarterback.”
Before he was drafted, an area scout sized him to Yahoo Sports this way: “He is who we wanted Johnny Manziel to be. That’s both a good and a bad thing. He’s a gamer, but he’s a real project.”
In other words, he’s the complete antithesis of Smith who has a reputation as one of the NFL’s most conservative quarterbacks, preferring to throw the ball away rather than take a risk downfield if he doesn’t see something close to a sure thing as a receiving option.
Smith opened his game up last season in an Andy Reid offense that’s tailored to creativity under center. With one of the league’s most dangerous and dynamic group of playmakers in Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Smith certainly felt more comfortable taking risks with the rewards his teammates provided.
But the thought of combining Mahomes’ gunslinger skills with the cadre of weapons in Reid’s arsenal ultimately proved to be too tantalizing to keep Mahomes on the bench.
It’s tough to predict what kind of success the Chiefs will see next season behind Mahomes. But one thing seems certain. Football will not be boring in Kansas City in 2018.