So, uh ... I’m not normally one to say “I totally called it and that makes me the smartest quarter-Japanese attorney / pastor / fanalyst in the world” (which, to be fair, may totally be accurate given the lack of people fitting that description) ...
But guys, this has never happened to me before. What do I mean by THIS?
What I mean by that is I’ve never had the team do literally EXACTLY what I wanted them to do in the draft. I mean, like, spooky exactly.
Don’t believe me? Click here and read an article I wrote four days ago, in which I argued that the exact right move in this draft is to trade up and get the quarterback they want. They even took my favorite quarterback of the entire draft (click here to read a 2500+ word film review explaining why Mahomes’ pocket presence, arm talent, accuracy and more make him a wonderful QB prospect).
So yeah, I’m pretty fired up. The last time the draft went down exactly like I was hoping (and it was a hope against hope) was when Derrick Johnson, that fantastic linebacker prospect out of Texas, somehow fell to the Chiefs in the teens. That was the last time I was THIS excited about a pick and felt like things had come together exactly as I’d hoped. While I loved Eric Berry, everyone knew that he was the guy. There were no surprises there.
On the flip side of that, when DJ kept dropping I was absolutely stunned. So much so that I figured there was NO WAY the Chiefs would take him. It was just too perfect. Then they did the right thing and we’ve all been rewarded with a decade plus of DJ materializing in backfields.
Tonight was even better.
Look, I’m not gonna talk about Mahomes as a prospect in this article (well, not much at least). Click the film review if you want that. I want to say, briefly, what this first round means to me with regards to the Chiefs organization as a whole, as well as a few other brief thoughts.
This Solidifies My Opinion Of John Dorsey and Clark Hunt
I’m leaving Andy Reid out of this for the moment and talking about just Dorsey and Hunt.
Here’s the thing with Dorsey ... he’s done a really nice job assembling a talented, young roster and helping the team be competitive during that time (despite, along with Reid, inheriting a top-heavy disaster of a team that had no identity or direction). I’ve been a big fan of his since his very first year.
HOWEVER, I was starting to become a bit concerned about whether he’d ever be a “swing for the fences” kind of GM. Meaning that, if he had a prospect he really loved, would he do whatever it took to get the guy? Would he be one of those people who happen to life, rather than waiting for it to happen to them? Or would he hold off for fear of losing his job after a swing and a miss?
There’s a reason NFL general managers are usually incredibly conservative (same with coaches): there is very, very little patience in the NFL for sticking your neck out, taking chances and being innovative. Fans will generally tolerate a mediocre team if the GM is doing the “right” stuff (which usually means playing by old cliches when it comes to drafting and grabbing safe picks and free agent pick-ups). But a guy who does something bold and it fails? That dude is going to get chased out of town really, really fast. Look at Jeff Fisher’s career if you want an example of the former.
But Dorsey proved that he’s a guy who is willing to do whatever it takes. He’s willing to be hyper-aggressive when the time calls for it, just like he’s willing to chase bigger money free agents when the time calls for it. He just went and eliminated his one (potential) weakness as a GM. Which is just ducky, if you want my professional opinion.
With regards to Hunt, this solidifies that he’ll let his football guys do their thing, even if it’s risky. I’ve seen more than a few “Clark only cares about butts in seats” comments over the years, and in my opinion that couldn’t be more wrong. Clark has shown (first with Piolo, now with Reid/Dorsey) that he will seek out (and get) the best available football minds, then he lets them do their job and stays completely out of it. I love that in an owner. Get the best guys, give them a blank checkbook, then step back and see what happens. Way to be, Clark.
Reid and Dorsey Are Not OK With Just Being Good
The safe, conservative play in this draft would’ve been to snag some additional help with the run defense or pass rush. They’ve got Alex Smith, who is a good enough quarterback to help the team win plenty of games as long as they don’t let the roster fall apart. They just went 12-4 and won the division. It would’ve been SO EASY to just say, “Well, we got pretty close guys, let’s stay the course and see if we can’t get a little luckier with injuries.”
Instead, they went for broke. Because they saw a QB they loved. They aren’t OK with just competing. These guys want to win it all. Which is fantastic.
Andy Reid Is Very, Very Likely Sticking Around
Andy Reid (and John Dorsey) aren’t under contract much longer. One of my biggest fears this offseason is that Reid/Dorsey would try to build around Alex Smith one more year (again, I like Alex more than most, but I think we’ve seen his ceiling) and then bail if/when that didn’t work out.
But trading up aggressively to snag a guy you’re openly saying needs some work? That’s the action of a coach (and maybe GM as well) who is sticking around for the long haul.
Andy Reid has now made a choice to tie his legacy, at least in part, to Patrick Mahomes. Reid has to be fully aware that the whole world is watching to see if the offensive guru can take the ultra-talented rookie and turn him into a star. Anything less will be viewed as a failure. If Reid turns Mahomes into a stud, that solidifies him as one of the better coaches of his generation. If it fails, well, the people who have critiqued him his whole career will have much, much more ammo.
Long story short, you don’t grab a career-defining guy and then just bail. And with regards to Dorsey, you don’t grab a guy so aggressively unless you’re excited at the idea of building a team around him in the years to come.
We’ll see what happens with both Reid and Dorsey, but this move makes me much, much more confident that we’ll see both of them in KC for years to come. And that, guys, is maybe the best news of the evening.
This Will Be The Most Exciting Offseason In... Ever?
Seriously, how stoked are you for the first set of organized team activities. And training camp????? Oh man. I can’t even think about the first preseason game right now, waiting to see how “pro-ready” Mahomes actually looks. I don’t care if it brings controversy, I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH THAT.
My opinion on how all this goes down? I think that there’s certainly a chance Mahomes gets the keys to the car, but that only occurs if he clearly outperforms Alex in the eyes of Reid, both in preseason and in practices. Reid is a more conservative coach in a lot of ways, and I don’t see him going with Mahomes unless he’s absolutely certain he will be the superior player. Anything less and Mahomes holds a clipboard for a year (and quite likely barring disaster, JUST a year).
I will say this, though ... don’t count Mahomes out. Yes, he has things to work on. But he is also incredibly gifted, and he’s not just some dude with a strong arm. Watch his tape. His pocket presence (the ability to elude pressure while keeping his eyes down the field) is absolutely fantastic. Per PFF (whatever you think of them, their objective stats are quite useful), Mahomes was under pressure on 36.5% of his snaps (8th highest in the QB class) but was only sacked on 10.2% of those plays under pressure (3rd lowest in the class). He is fantastic at feeling pressure and buying extra time, one of the best college QB’s I’ve ever seen at it. That is a wildly important talent, and one that really can’t be taught. Though I’ve seen people improve a bit here and there (or regress), pocket presence is generally a “you have it or you don’t” thing, and he has it.
Mahomes also throws the ball pretty accurately consistently, despite being asked to make a ton of deep/intermediate throws in college. Again, he’s not just some deep-ball chuck-it-up passer. Along with that, don’t let the whole “he was in an air raid offense” make you think that Mahomes has zero experience reading / analyzing a defense presnap. That’s just not true.
Another thing Mahomes will stress in Indianapolis: He had more responsibilities in Lubbock than you think. Kingsbury allowed Mahomes to begin checking plays at line of scrimmage during the quarterback’s sophomore year, and by last year Mahomes could check any play he wanted. In fact, Kingsbury’s sideline signals were an exception—he used them only when he wanted Mahomes to keep his play no matter what. A scout said that is unusual for a college spread quarterback. It was a virtue of Mahomes starting 28 games.
That’s part of a wonderful piece in MMQB about Mahomes, which stressed that Mahomes is actually significantly more advanced mentally as a QB than most fans seem to believe. That point was stressed by Doug Farrar in his piece on Mahomes as well. Both of those articles are absolutely fantastic reads if you’re someone who truly believes Mahomes doesn’t know how to read defenses. He does.
Because of his arm talent, pocket presence, surprising accuracy and seeming ability to pick up the mental side of the game, Mahomes is a guy I would not rule out showing up and playing at a high enough level to force Reid to play him over Smith. And make no mistake, IF he outplays Smith, he’ll start.
And so it begins. I plan on reviewing the rest of Mahomes’ 2016 games at some point here, but for now, these thoughts are all I can squeeze out after the best 1st round since DJ came to us. I can’t wait to see what happens next.