Whether you like the pick, hate the pick or don’t quite know how to feel just yet, the Kansas City Chiefs selection of quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft is a monumental decision that will have a lasting impact on the team and the city.
Watch any college tape of Mahomes, and it’s not hard to see why the Chiefs traded up in the draft to snag him.
The raw arm talent and potential are something no quarterback in Kansas City has had in years. However, it’s also not hard to see there’s a lot of growth that needs to occur before he can take over as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Alex Smith is still the clear starting quarterback for the Chiefs in 2017. While this may dampen some fans excitement, general manager John Dorsey’s time in Green Bay paints a perfect example of what could be ahead in Kansas City.
Aaron Rodgers, the Packers first round pick in 2005 and current All-Pro quarterback, did not start a single game for three years after being drafted.
While it may seem extreme, it allowed an unpolished Rodgers to learn under NFL veterans, take in the complicated playbook, perfect his techniques and learn to read defenses.
Sitting, learning and improving as a backup under head coach Andy Reid is the best-case scenario for Mahomes. The move would allow his flaws time to be coached out at practice instead of on the field at Arrowhead.
If Chiefs fans want Mahomes to one-day lead Kansas City to the Super Bowl, they have to trust in Reid and Dorsey’s ability to craft and develop his skill set. Scarring young quarterbacks too soon is often the nail in the coffin for many first-round picks, and the Chiefs are fortunate enough to have a winning quarterback already in place to hold down the fort while Mahomes learns the ropes.
While Mahomes may not start a game for a year or two, it does impact the team that suits up in Foxborough in 2017. A top-10 pick that starts right away could have really helped either side of the ball, but the Chiefs showed their confidence in the core they already have in place and in what the future for Mahomes may be.
What lies ahead is the most exciting factor for Chiefs fans, as they now have a quarterback with the potential to perform at an elite NFL level.
With every player, there is a ceiling and a floor that is constantly rising and falling.
The floor for Alex Smith is high enough to call him a winning quarterback, year in and year out, but the ceiling also ranks near the bottom of the league at this point in his career.
Mahomes’ ceiling is Brett Favre.
It’s important to clarify that the odds of him reaching that Hall of Fame success are very low, but it’s there.
Less than a handful of AFC quarterbacks have cracked the Super Bowl since 2003, with the likes of Manning, Brady and Roethlisberger proving that you must have an elite quarterback to contend.
The Chiefs are now taking a chance on a quarterback who has the potential to go toe to toe with any of those names. Mahomes’ arm strength is unquestionable, the necessary accuracy across the field is there, the mobility in and outside of the pocket is beyond his age and the playmaking and gun slinging mentality leads to plays that Smith simply doesn’t make.
Quarterbacks in the NFL have to have that playmaking mindset to carry the team when others are not performing, and while Smith did have that over the course of the last four years, it’s taken Kansas City only so far.
However, there’s a reason the Chiefs haven’t drafted a first-round quarterback since 1983.
The move is historically risky and if the player busts, its impact is devastating.
The Chiefs will likely go three straight years without a non-quarterback first round pick, and the results on the field may show that after a while.
Kansas City is counting on their later round picks to move into important roles, for their younger players to continue to grow and for their veterans to perform for the length of their contract. There is now less wiggle room with such a gamble being made.
Reid and Dorsey went all-in on this pick, and if Mahomes is a successful starter for 10 years in Kansas City, they likely have jobs in KC for however long they wish. But Mahomes’ below-average fundamentals, greedy style of play and the severe learning curve he faces, make this an extreme boom or bust option. And the penalty for drafting a first round bust at quarterback, just ask the Cleveland Browns, is catastrophic.
Popular quarterback Deshaun Watson was on the board for Kansas City and the two will be compared for their entire careers. Watson can start sooner, has a better track record and very well could be the better quarterback when all is said and done, but the Chiefs opted in favor of Mahomes’ raw potential instead.
The Chiefs made a decision Thursday night that will impact the course of the franchise for a very long time.
They showed faith in their current roster by selecting a top 10 pick who may not start for another two years.
The team showed a distinct direction and commitment for the future of the franchise by drafting a first-round quarterback for the first time in 34-years. They showed they’re not afraid to take risky gambles no matter the cost, opting for potential and upside over safer selections.
Most importantly, they excited a fan base. Chiefs fans will look back on April 27, 2017, as the day the franchise took a momentous step in becoming a championship team or as the day in which the team made a decision that haunted the franchise for years to come.
Either way, they took a chance. They risked it all. And now the waiting game begins.
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