Patrick Mahomes will be taking the reigns from Alex Smith this season as QB1, and the buzz around this young QB couldn’t be higher. I’ve luckily been able to watch Mahomes from the start of his career as a true freshman at Texas Tech University, to the player Kansas City decided to spend the #10 overall pick on last year. Let me tell you, it’s been an incredible journey, filled with highlight plays, and some head-scratching moments. Through all the highs and lows, it is extremely difficult to not sit in awe of what this young man is capable of doing. So, here is a guide on what to expect from the newest QB to lead the Chiefs offense.
‘Pat always wanted to do things perfectly, and he’d be upset with himself if he didn’t do it right on the first try. He held the offensive guys accountable. I always respected his ability to be a team builder.’
– Former Texas Tech Safety John White
By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about the arm strength, and how mind-blowing it is. Mahomes can sling the ball all over the field with ease and will drop some jaws with the types of throws he is able to complete. His arm strength allows him to attack every inch of the field, and when combined with his accuracy, he can fit passes into the smallest windows. It also allows him to make throws that are typically frowned upon in the NFL, like throwing off platform, throwing off his back foot, and throwing across his body or across the field.
Here is just a glimpse at the distance Mahomes can cover with his cannon for an arm.
This throw is off his back foot, with a pass rusher closing in on him fast. He throws off his back foot, drops the pass in an area that only his WR can make the play, and absorbs the contact from the incoming pass rusher.
Mahomes has displayed excellent vision in his college career, and that continued into the NFL in his lone start last year. Regardless of pressure, or what is going on around him, Mahomes always has his eyes downfield looking for his target. He is able to see the whole field and anticipate throwing windows. This trait is very advanced for his experience level and should continue to progress. Mahomes can also look off defenders, or throw the occasional no-look pass.
Below is an example of Mahomes using his eyes to get the LB to slide towards the RB on the Flare route and out of the passing window so he can hit the slot WR behind the LB and under the Safety. Excellent touch and accuracy as well.
He can also escape the pocket, threaten the defense with his feet, and throw a ‘no-look pass’.
He does have a tendency to struggle with seeing underneath defenders dropping into short zones and will gift the underneath defender with an easy INT. Definitely, something he will continue to work to improve.
On this throw, Mahomes leads his WR into the Safety and gets picked off. The ball should have been thrown to the outside.
Play Making Ability
Mahomes’ playmaking ability is one of my favorite things to watch. He is just mobile enough to escape the pocket when needed and can scramble for positive yards. He has a strong lower body and can shed some tackles in the pocket and escape to the outside. But don’t confuse his ability to scramble with him being a running QB. Mahomes wants to throw the ball, and he will use his feet to extend the play to give him a chance to hit the home run play. His ability to extend plays and escape the pocket means that on 3rd and 25, Andy Reid doesn’t have to run a draw and punt the football away on 4th down. He can call a pass and use his strong-armed QB to get a 1st down.
This play is just impressive. Mahomes escapes the pressure, breaks a tackle with his lower body strength and balance, all while keeping his eyes downfield and completing a pass on 3rd and long for a 1st down.
Mahomes has just enough mobility and elusiveness to be dangerous running with the ball.
Leadership and Work Ethic
I was able to talk with some of Mahomes’s teammates at Texas Tech to find out some about his leadership skills and work ethic. When asked about Mahomes’ ability to lead, WR Ja’Deion High said ‘He commanded the huddle with a high level of confidence, and everyone around him fed off of that. Everyone around him respected him and knew exactly what and how certain things needed to be done.’
Furthermore, when asked the same question, Safety John White elaborated.
‘Pat was young when he first came to the team. You could see he had all kinds of talent, but he didn’t try to act like he was the best. He took a step back to understand the learning curve and pay respect to Davis Webb (the starting QB when Mahomes got to Tech).
Examining Mahomes progression over seasons, White added his thoughts on maturity.
His maturity growth was very noticeable in the 2 seasons I played with him. Pat always wanted to do things perfectly, and he’d be upset with himself if he didn’t do it right on the first try. He held the offensive guys accountable. I always respected his ability to be a team builder.’
As far as work ethic goes, High stated ‘He had a strong work ethic. I don’t think he could’ve got to his level of success without having that and studying the game like he did. He always watched film and stayed in the playbook. He definitely did what was asked of him, and more.’
I think White summed up the behind-the-scenes Mahomes best when he said
‘He’d put in the work with Kliff Kingsbury (HC at Tech) to make sure he was prepared each week. Pat was a superstar who was capable of still being level-headed enough to get along with everyone. He was the kind of player you enjoyed being teammates with.’
Reasons For Optimism
I could go on and on about all of the highlight type plays I’ve watched Mahomes make over the years. He’s very entertaining and has no shortage of eye-opening moments. Chiefs fans will get to see all of the ‘I can’t believe he just did that’ plays soon enough.
His arm strength is off the charts, his accuracy is pinpoint most of the time, and he has the vision to see the whole field and get the ball to the guy with the best chance to do some damage. Mahomes can use his legs to extend plays and is no stranger to the home run play. He will give you everything he’s got on every single play.
Pat’s leadership skills and work ethic are far beyond his years. And if his talent and intangibles aren’t enough, Andy Reid is his coach and has been able to develop several QBs in his time as an NFL coach.
Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!
Reasons To Slow Down The Hype Train
For all the positives that Mahomes has, there are some concerning parts of his gameplay. He is young, and with the youth comes inexperience, and some growing pains. Andy Reid will have some teachable moments to help his QB grow.
With Mahomes’ strong arm, comes the confidence to make every throw. While on its own, that’s not a negative, it does lead him into trouble with INTs. He will sometimes try to fit the ball into too tight of a window, although he very rarely repeats the same mistake. Mahomes does have a tendency to struggle with seeing underneath defenders dropping into short zones and will gift the underneath defender with an easy INT on occasion. Definitely, something he will continue to work to improve. Having the big arm sometimes is a disadvantage as well, because Mahomes has to find the right amount of zip to throw the ball with to avoid the throwing it through a WR’s hands, or having it tipped up in the air giving a defender a chance to make a play on the ball.
He will take some avoidable sacks this year because he is always looking to make a play. He doesn’t like to give up on a play. A few of those sacks will end with a fumble as well. As long as Mahomes can continue to grow and mature like he already has, and he can find the right balance between ESPN Top 10 Plays, average plays, and the occasional head-scratcher, the sky is the limit for him. Just pump the brakes before you run away with the hype train.
Personal Expectations For This Season
I’ll be the first to admit I’m a little biased with my projection for Mahomes this season. To steal the words from Seth Keysor, I am a big Mahomer. After watching him for 3 years at Texas Tech, and his one NFL start, I am extremely high on his potential. I expect him to throw for 3900-4100 yards, 34-36 TDs, and 14 INTS this season. All really high numbers, but once he gets comfortable in Reid’s system, the yardage and TDs will pile up, and the INTs should come down.
Here’s to wishing Mahomes has the kind of year that puts the rest of the NFL on notice and leads the Chiefs on a deep playoff run!