Patrick Mahomes: A Case In The Complexity Of Draft Scouting

Photo: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

If you've watched one second of the 2018 NFL season, or any of the programming dedicated to covering it, odds are you've seen a Patrick Mahomes highlight. The second year quarterback out of Texas Tech has been nothing short of sensational. After the Chiefs traded QB Alex Smith this offseason, it was apparent the team felt Mahomes was ready to take the reins.

He hasn't disappointed. Mahomes is currently just off the pace of Peyton Manning's single season record for touchdown passes (55). With eight games left to go, Mahomes will need 30 touchdowns (he has 26 in eight games thus far) to set the record.

We'll have to wait and see if he gets there. Odds are this won't be his only crack at it, based on his early sample size.

One thing we don't have to wait on? Assessing Mahomes as an NFL Draft success. Taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mahomes was a trade-up target for the Chiefs. Considering the price of the deal, he's worth every penny. The Chiefs traded:

  • 2017 1st round pick (27th overall): Bills cornerback TreDavious White
  • 2017 3rd round pick (91st overall) Traded to LA Rams, Safety John Johnson
  • 2018 1st round pick (22nd overall) Traded to Tennessee Titans, Linebacker Rashaan Evans

But here's the thing: Mahomes' situation is a terrific example of how and why location and coaching and situation matter. Say Mahomes would have gotten drafted to Cleveland. Is he on the cusp of challenging the single season touchdown record? Probably not. If he's drafted to the New York Jets and asked to play right away, is he as polished and dynamic and confident is he is now? Who knows.

All of that, to say this: Scouting the NFL Draft, where 32 different teams have 32 different sets of situations, philosophies, personnel and criteria, is incredibly difficult.

It's also incredibly fun. In reflection of Mahomes' success and my report on him prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, this is a great example of the different kinds of misses analysts in this field can take. There are bad beats, when a player gets injured or makes poor choices off the field and we're unable to see their full potential. There are also complete whiffs, such was the case with my assessment of Hoosiers offensive tackle Jason Spriggs from 2016. I gave Spriggs a first round grade, but he was been abysmal in spotty playing time with the Packers. Shame on me.

But then there are cases like Patrick Mahomes. I personally scored Mahomes as a Day 2 prospect. Below you'll find my full report prior to the 2017 NFL Draft.

Go ahead, I'll hold while you hurl your insults in my general direction.

The valuation of Mahomes as a player is obviously wrong. It isn't breaking news to announce there were not 75 players better than Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft. Heck, he definitely wasn't the third best quarterback, either.

For the record, the two passers I had ahead of Mahomes were Deshaun Watson (QB1) and Mitchell Trubisky (QB2). The good news here is all three are experiencing various levels of success thus far in their NFL careers.

But in reading through the report itself, I have no regrets with my assessment or prognostication of Mahomes as a player.

  • Has never seen a rusher he couldn't slip, a throw he couldn't make. Oozes of confidence...
  • Is a touchdown to checkdown style of passer.
  • Capable of launching deep throws on the move with little effort.
  • Mahomes II has the highest ceiling of any Quarterback in the 2017 class.
  • ...a true boom or bust player; if he is able to mentally recondition himself and gain consistency in his mechanics he will be a star in the NFL. 

Heck, even the prognostication of his value: "Potential Starter in Year 2"

This was a misappropriated value in my assessment of Mahomes, but the context of the report reads quite nicely in unison with what we've seen from Mahomes in the dawn of his NFL career.

Shame on me for underselling the value, but I don't regret a thing. I'll take my lumps with this one, because there are probably 25 landing spots in the NFL that would have yielded notably worse results from Mayday Mahomes. Kansas City is turning out to be a match made in heaven.

Written By:

Kyle Crabbs

Chief Brand Officer

CBO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Former NDT Scouting Overlord.