Patrick Mahomes: Revisiting the 2017 NFL Draft
Now might be a great time to recap the situation leading up to the Chiefs drafting Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick in the 2017 Draft.
Remember, at the time, all the talk was that this was not a good QB draft. The general consensus was Mitch Trubisky was the best available. USA today had him 1. Kiper had him 1. A lot of people really loved Trubisky coming out of North Carolina. Another story for another time will the story of how they got this so wrong…but for this, it was that the consensus best QB was Trubisky. It was interesting leading up to draft day how Trubisky went “flying up the draft board”. There were lots of articles and talk about teams falling in love with him. He was thought to have prototype size, arm strength and brains. When draft day came around, here is how it went down:
1. Cleveland. Coming off a typical horrible season, the Browns had the 1st pick. It was considered ALMOST a given they would be drafting Myles Garret, but that they did have some interest in Trubisky. The Browns took Garrett with the first pick.
2. 49ers. The niners, also coming off a horrible season, having been led by QB Brian Hoyer (yeah, the guy who was in Houston when we won a 30-0 playoff game there) did not consider any of the QB in this draft was worthy of this pick. IF they wanted one, they could have taken any of them here. It was reported that the Chiefs had intel that the 49ers weren’t going QB at 2. Having decided they wouldn’t be going QB, the 49ers fielded some calls from others. There were rumors that Cleveland was tyring to trade up from 12 (they had 1 and 12 in this draft) to get Trubisky. There were even some rumors the Chiefs were looking to come all the way up to 2 for Trubisky. This is when the Bears pulled the first big surprise of the draft. Sitting at 3, the Bears, who wanted Trubisky, became convinced or spooked into thinking they needed to trade up from 3 to 2 to get their man. What made this move even more odd was that the Bears had just signed Mike Glennon to a contract with 18 million guaranteed to be their starter. So at 2 The Bears draft Mitch Trubisky. The head coach, John Fox, is shocked as he wasn’t told this was the plan. To move up to the second spot, the Bears had to give the 49ers the No. 3 overall pick, a third-round pick (67th overall) and a fourth-round pick (111th overall) in the 2017 draft plus a third-round pick in the 2018 draft.
3. Da Bears (from the 49ers) So now that the Niners had fleeced the Bears to move up one spot the 49ers…who had Brian Hoyer as their QB, opted to draft Soloman Thomas, DE out of Stanford. A gifted athlete whose film shows a whole lot of IDGAF in it. Kind of high to go for a not so sure thing at DE.
4. At 4, the Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette, the can’t miss RB from LSU. You might argue that before the 2017 season that Blake Bortles hadn’t shown much. And I would argue that this is still way to high for a RB in this era of football. Even one as talented as Fournette. Just remember, Kareem Hunt went in this very same draft, late in the third round. So did Alvin Kamara.
5. At 5, the Tennessee Titans selected WR Corey Davis. Clearly a case can be made that they have/had Marcus Mariotta as their QB and weren’t ready (and still aren’t even though he SUCKS) to move on from him. Davis was injured most of his first year, and hasn’t done a whole lot so far. Marriotta, is still their QB…and he still sucks.
6. At 6, the Jets, seemed like a team that would consider a QB. Coming off a 5-11 season with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing 12 TD and 17 INTS. (this was bad Fitzmagic, not the good kind you want) Fortunately for the Chiefs, the Jets had used a high 2nd round pick in the 2016 Draft on QB Christian Hackenberg, and weren’t ready to move on from that disaster yet. Hackenberg, is the highest drafted QB in like 20 years to never see even a SINGLE NFL SNAP in his career. He is awful. He was awful when he was drafted….but the Jets weren’t convinced just yet and weren’t going to go QB in this draft (again, it was reported later the Chiefs knew the Jets were out of the QB market.) At 6, the Jets go with Safety Jamaal Adams. They would quickly realize that Hack was a disaster and drafted Sam Darnold in the 2018 NFL Draft.
7. At 7, the Chargers, having just moved to LA, and with an aging Phillip Rivers, decided to load up on more weapons instead of considering a QB for the coming end of the Phylis era, drafting WR Mike Williams. Williams looks like he may turn out to be a very good NFL player someday soon, but in typical bad luck Charger style, he got hurt before the season started and missed the whole thing. He is now getting on the field this year, and the clock is ticking down on Rivers.
8. At 8, the Carolina Panthers already having Cam Newton on the roster, were no threat to take a QB, and had their hearts set on RB Christian McCaffrey. Again, I am not a fan of RB this early. I point once more to Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt being taking in the third round of this same draft. I can name plenty more good RB who are found much later, or as UDFA.
9. At 9, the Bengals, were speculated a bit to be be possibly interested in a QB, but the CAP situation for Andy Dalton made that a remote possibility as his contract would be difficult to walk from for the next few years even if they might think it was time to move on. Instead the Bengals went with WR John Ross….the guy whose combine numbers and college career suggest he should be Tyreek Hill…but he isn’t. Got hurt (all these top 10 WR got hurt!) Then got in the doghouse, and hasn’t shown anything so far. At least in 2018, the good Andy Dalton has shown up thus far, but will it last? No QB here.
***10*** This brings us to pick 10. Buffalo Bills. Weeks before the draft, the Chiefs front office was doing their homework and making calls to see what other teams were thinking and where there might be some room to maneuver. It’s been reported that the Chiefs had talked to the Bills about this spot long before the draft and came to an understanding that if the draft fell a certain way that the Bills would be willing to move down. Due to the chaos of the Bill front office they wouldn’t be in the QB market, even though they had grown wary of Tyrod Taylor. The new owners had fired Rex Ryan, and had hired Sean McDermott to be the new coach, but the GM, Doug Whaley was still in place for this draft even though it was known by draft day he was about to be fired. The GM actually was rumored to want Mahomes here, but the new coach, not having had time to evaluate the QB’s, and considering this wasn’t supposed to be a good QB draft, decided that they weren’t going to take a QB until a new GM was in place and the new coach and GM could be on the same page and get “their guy”. That finally happened this pas off-season when Buffalo drafted Josh Allen. More on that in a minute. So, with the Bills not liking anything on the board here at 10, and with the Chiefs ready to move up, the Chiefs struck sending first-round pick (No. 27 overall), a third-round pick (91st overall) and a 2018 first-round pick to move up to 10 to draft Patrick Mahomes.
This was the culmination of years of scouting, waiting and watching, and then on draft day, for once, everything going on up at the top fell just right. The teams who passed on Mahomes because his scouting reports indicated a raw prospect, from a system that doesn’t produce good NFL QB had miscalculated Mahomes and that Andy Reid and the front office had not. We had benefited from the ineptitude of inept organizations and circumstance! So often we had been the unfortunate victims of these things….like 2013, having the 1st overall pick in a poor draft year with no QB in it, or pass rusher etc. Not this time.
Now, back to Buffalo. Due to their weird hire the coach, then keep the GM for the draft, then fire the GM and hire a new GM cluster****, they kicked the can down the road to the 2018 draft and the promised bounty of QB to come. Having had a better than expected fluke playoff run, their pick was lower than they had perhaps thought and so in the race up to the top, they had to expend a lot of draft capital and a starting LT in a trade to get up to 7 overall, so they could draft, JOSH ALLEN. When you watch Mahomes play the rest of his career, think of the poor fans in Buffalo who had him just sitting on a platter at pick 10 in the 2017 draft and instead, due to organizational chaos, ended up trading a ransom, a year later for Josh Allen.
As for the drafting of Pat Mahomes, there were quite a few Chiefs fans who were excited when the trade up to 10 was announced. Many the Chiefs had gone up there to get DeShaun Watson, the QB from Clemson who had beaten mighty Alabama, who had been a human highlight reel over the course of his long Clemson career. There were many of us who were stunned, disappointed that the pick was Mahomes. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Reid had tipped off what he thought of the kids character and his football smarts. There were rumors that the Texans LOVED him for the same reasons. It was confirmed the Saints were 100% absolutely going to draft Mahomes at 11 if he fell to them there. At the same time, there were rumblings that Watson wasn’t a good X’s and O’s guy when teams had him in for interviews. No matter, the average fan just sees Watson tearing it up every Saturday for years and naturally want that guy. On top of that, some Alex Smith fans were a little surprised by the move. Smith afterall, had been a very good QB here for Reid, he was a winner. His box score stats were good. Why change? By now, it should be pretty obvious what the plan was the whole time and why the change was made, but at the time it was all very unsettling, new and different. All kinds of different fans with all kinds of different reactions.
As for Watson, the Texans, having been such a good team for years but always missing the QB, had now missed out on Trubisky and had just watched the Chiefs move up to take Mahomes, needed to do something. There are reports out there that say the Texans owner demanded the Texans get Watson at all costs. Now, as I mentioned, the Texans reportedly, LOVED Mahomes, but weren’t all that in love with Watson. The owner, tired of having nothing at QB, directed his GM to do whatever it took to make sure Watson was a Texan. Rick Smith made a deal with the Cleveland Browns to move up to 12 and secure Watson. The picture I have attached, is the Texans draft day war room live shot, the moment they drafted Watson. Now, either that is a room full of dissapointed coaches and scouts with Rick Smith standing there smiling about the pick, OR maybe Smith has just cut a big smelly fart….you do the math. Watson started out hot, but the eye test and the underlying numbers indicated to those paying attention, that it was smoke and mirrors. He was a turnover machine. He was throwing 50/50 balls and his guys were coming down with them. Watson hasn’t looked good this year….and it isn’t due to the injury…he’s the same guy he was before, still turning it over, but the 50/50 balls he chucks up, aren’t falling into his recievers hands. Reid knew it, The Texans staff knew it…even the Browns passed.
As you watch Mahomes flourish and shine for the next decade and more, just know that this is how it all came to pass that on one great day in 2017, it all went our way just this one time. And that might be enough to get things to go our way a whole lot more for a long time.