Editor’s note: It’s season preview week at SB Nation. Here’s why we’re excited about the Kansas City Chiefs.
If you’re an NFL fan, you probably already know that Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were all selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft. If you’re a fan of certain other teams, you might know that two other quarterbacks — Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien — were also selected in that round.
But if you’re a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs — young or old — there’s one thing you’re almost sure to know: the Chiefs took one more quarterback in that round; he was Penn State’s Todd Blackledge.
Selected with the seventh pick — before all the other quarterbacks save Elway — Blackledge would have the least illustrious career of the six, starting just 24 games during his five years with Kansas City.
The last one was on September 20, 1987. It would be 30 years, three months, 11 days and 25 minutes — but who’s counting? — before a first-round quarterback drafted by the Chiefs started another game for the franchise.
That happened on New Year’s Eve in 2017, when Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes — drafted by the Chiefs that spring with the 10th overall pick of the draft — started a meaningless Week 17 game on the road against the Denver Broncos.
It looked a lot more like a preseason game. Many starters for both teams were on the sidelines. And by the box score, Mahomes’ performance didn’t look like much. He was 22 for 35, throwing for 284 yards. He threw no touchdown passes, and was intercepted once.
But he threw a magnificent 51-yard strike to Demetrius Harris on the third play of the game, and after giving way to Tyler Bray in the fourth quarter, came back in with 2:45 remaining to lead a field goal drive that sealed a 27-24 victory for the Chiefs.
For fans who had spent more than a generation watching Chiefs offenses being led by castoffs from other teams — and considering the stark contrast in style between the freewheeling Mahomes and the careful and efficient Alex Smith — it was just what the doctor ordered.
And when Mahomes threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill in Week 2 of the following preseason — a pass that traveled farther in the air than any completion during the entire 2017 season — the excitement among Chiefs fans for this young quarterback went into overdrive.
Win, lose or draw, for me — and (approximately) 99.649 percent of all Chiefs fans — 2018 is all about Patrick Mahomes. Any Chiefs fan who says otherwise is probably still picking Damon Huard in their fantasy draft.