Day Two QB Targets
Pat Mahomes II, Texas Tech (6’3 | 230 | 4.68) – Might have the most upside of any quarterback in this year’s draft. All the physical tools are there for Mahomes to develop into a top-tier QB at the next level: a cannon arm (that would be top ten in the league right now), ideal length with a thick frame, quick feet to get out of trouble in the pocket, and enough speed to gain yards when scrambling.
Mahomes combines elite physical traits with unique arm talent. Despite footwork and mechanics that are all over the place, he still somehow manages to throw with accuracy, touch, and as much zip as any college quarterback.
His arm angle goes from over the top all the way down to side-arm without his accuracy suffering. Mahomes is also consistently on target whether still in the pocket or on the move. I haven’t seen a quarterback vary his arm angles as much without losing accuracy since Matt Stafford was at Georgia.
Mahomes has a rifle for an arm, but he also has the ability to adapt his arm strength to the situation. He can launch it deep, drop it in the bucket with touch, and throw a laser through traffic when needed. Mahomes’ size, arm, and speed are everything you look for in a potential starting quarterback.
There is no doubt that Mahomes has a high ceiling, but there are plenty of doubts as to whether he will ever reach it at the NFL level. While he might have the best physical tools of the QBs in the draft, he also might have the worst footwork and mechanics.
Whether his footwork is lazy or just bad, he rarely sets his feet or even has the same set up on consecutive throws. He also has a bad habit of scrambling backward instead of stepping up in the pocket when pressured. Mahomes has been able to get away with it in college since he is faster than most of the defenders chasing him, but it could be a different story in the NFL. Some of those deep drops are going to turn into sacks for double-digit losses at the next level.
Ball security and turnovers could be an issue as well. Mahomes default setting is to launch the ball as far as he can when in trouble, but some of those rainbow passes are going to turn into interceptions in the NFL. He also had six fumbles last year, which is way too many. He does have large, strong hands so maybe the fumbling issues could be cleaned up with improved fundamentals.
Perhaps the biggest potential issue with Mahomes becoming an NFL quarterback is his lack of experience with a pro-style offense. The Air Raid scheme he ran in college hasn’t translated well to the NFL historically for a few reasons. Mahomes didn’t have to call his own plays in college, wasn’t asked to make pre-snap reads or check out of plays, most of his reads were limited to one side of the field, he hasn’t had to command a huddle, and all of his snaps came out of the shotgun.
I’m not saying that any of those things are deal breakers. By all accounts Mahomes is intelligent and a hard worker, it’s just a heck of a lot of adjustments for a rookie quarterback to make while also dealing with a huge leap in game speed.
Despite all of the negatives I’ve listed about Mahomes, he’s still one of my favorite quarterback prospects in the draft and the potential is there for him to excel at the next level. Mahomes is an exciting player to watch; he’s like a bigger, stronger Johnny Manziel but without any of the off-field concerns.
I think Mahomes can be a great quarterback at the next level, but it is going to take awhile. He’ll need to clean up his footwork and mechanics without losing the swagger that helped him excel in college. There are going to be some plays that make his coach cover his eyes and some others that will win his team games, but it may take a few years for there to be more of the latter than the former.
Maybe Mahomes can succeed at the next level despite his unorthodox footwork and mechanics, it just doesn’t happen that often. Matt Stafford was able to clean up his mechanics while still keeping his explosive play-making ability. Jay Cutler… not so much.
Mahomes had plenty of success in college, hitting 66% of his passes this season for 5,052 yards, 41 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions. His extreme spread offense certainly boosted his numbers, but his three-year, 152.0 passer rating is impressive regardless of the scheme he played in.
The stats don’t tell the whole story and you can’t get a clear idea of what Mahomes can do without watching him play a few times. He’s got a knack for avoiding the pass rush, looking off defenders, and completing clutch passes whether under pressure or on the run. His tape has impressed me more than any other quarterback in this draft and he could develop into a top-tier NFL quarterback eventually.
If Mahomes falls to the 2nd round, the Bears should give him serious consideration but they would be smart to bring in a veteran as a bridge while Mahomes learns the nuances of playing quarterback in an NFL scheme.