The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off this Thursday at 7 p.m. Arrowhead Time. The Chiefs have two selections in the first round, and — at the time of this writing — another 10 selections over Day 2 and Day 3 covering Rounds 2 to 7.
With 12 picks — tied for the league lead — this should make for the most exciting Chiefs draft since they selected quarterback Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall back in 2017. After watching the Chicago Bears take Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick, the Chiefs traded with the Buffalo Bills to grab Mahomes. The Houston Texans took Deshaun Watson two picks later.
At the time of the Mahomes’ selection, the reviews were... well... varied. Let’s go back in time to see what draft analysts were saying following the Mahomes pick. As is well known now, Mahomes would go on to win the league MVP in his first year as starter and lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl LIV championship.
Keep in mind that this exercise is just for fun. Good analysts post with conviction as opposed to cautiousness — and nobody is always right. Still, the Mahomes ice is always fun to revisit.
We’ll go in order from the lukewarm to the north pole:
Chad Reuter, NFL.com (link)
Day 1 grade: B+
The skinny: Chiefs GM John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid saw Brett Favre in Green Bay, and they have to see some of that gunslinger attitude in Mahomes. There is a risk factor here given his penchant for throwing the ball anywhere and from any arm angle (which will turn into interceptions in the NFL), and they have up a future first-round pick to get him. But if anyone can get Mahomes to adjust and succeed, it’s Reid... Patrick Mahomes has all of the tools to be a great quarterback.
Looking back: Reuter had the best grade on the round that we found — and while he addressed the potential problem, he nailed the fact that Mahomes would be a match made in heaven with Andy Reid. Not a lot of ice to be found here.
Danny Kelly, The Ringer (link)
The Chiefs just got the heir apparent to Alex Smith, but in many ways, Mahomes is Smith’s polar opposite: The son of a former MLB pitcher, he has an incredible arm, and he’s never been afraid to use it. But unlike Smith, Mahomes lacks discipline and consistency — both when it comes to playing within the constructs of the offense and with his accuracy and decision-making. Andy Reid has a project on his hands, and it will take some time for Mahomes to acclimate and adapt to Reid’s West Coast offense, but the former Red Raider is going to a team with plenty of playmakers, including Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move for the Chiefs, who gave up this year’s 27th pick, another third-rounder this year, and a first-rounder next year to move up to this spot.
Fit: B | Value: C
Looking back: It didn’t take much time for Mahomes to adapt to Reid’s offense... once he actually took the field. We’ll never know what Mahomes starting as a rookie would have looked like. Kelly was mostly right: the Chiefs did adopt a high risk — and they were granted the high reward in an MVP and Super Bowl title.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar (link)
My grade on what Kansas City did in this draft is due to my opinion that they gave up way too much to trade up for quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the first round. Again, if he works out, I look dumb and it doesn’t matter. But to give up pick Nos. 27 and 91 this year and a first-round pick in 2018 is a lot. The Chiefs are a team that I think could have used this draft to find a player in the first round who can push them over the top in 2017 and help them make a Super Bowl push.
Looking back: Given not only what Mahomes became (and how quickly he became it), this wound up being an icy take. But at the time, the idea wasn’t completely invalid. Reid had made Alex Smith’s Chiefs into a consistent winner, so you can understand some confusion when they decided to make such a sharp pivot.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier (link)
Patrick Mahomes’ upside is the real Tony Romo. His downside is the internet meme version of Romo from Eagles/Giants message boards of the last decade. Mahomes is Brett Favre-like in the way the neighborhood teenager throwing rocks from the sidewalk and breaking windows of the old abandoned warehouse is Brett Favre-like: You love the arm but question the judgment.
Just how highly you rate Mahomes depends upon whether you see him throw across his body to a triple-covered receiver in the middle of the field for a 30-yard gain and think: “Dang, this young man has magical playmaking sorcery,” or “if he tries that 20 times in the NFL, he will throw 19 interceptions and the whole organization will get fired.” Make no mistake about it: If Mahomes were forced to start a full season as a rookie, he would not only throw 25 interceptions but would also endure 50 sacks with his Michael Vick-stuck-in-second-gear approach to pocket discipline.
But the tools are the tools, there is certainly no shortage of courage, and when Mahomes isn’t making things up as he goes along, there are flashes of decision-making brilliance to go along with all of that pure, unrefined talent. If any coach can settle Mahomes down without taking away his sizzle, it’s Andy Reid. And Reid has a year or so to wait with Alex Smith still playing at...well...an Alex Smith level.
My issue is that the Chiefs have been in playoff also-ran mode for years. They could have traded up and upgraded their defense to get over the top in 2017. Reid’s Eagles tended to get stuck in 10- 11-win ruts. They could swap out quarterbacks and remain in the same rut, because they still have too many needs in other areas.
Looking back: Here we find a similar sentiment to what Kadar expressed. The comments on the risk were valid, and we’ll never know what would have happened if Mahomes started as a rookie. But what pushes this ahead in the cold-take ranking is saying Mahomes’ ceiling was Tony Romo. It can be easily argued that Mahomes passed Romo’s career accomplishments after two seasons as a starter.
Walter Football (link)
Original grade: C+
This is a very tricky grade. I like Pat Mahomes. He’s the only quarterback in this class I would’ve chosen in the first round. He can make all the throws, so he’s basically the opposite of Alex Smith. I think he has to sit a year, but he can do that behind Alex Smith. So, I like that aspect of this selection. However, the Chiefs gave up a lot. A 2018 first-round selection is too costly. I know the Chiefs are getting a franchise quarterback in Mahomes , but there were going to be great quarterbacks available next year as well. I also don’t think the Chiefs had to jump the Cardinals to take Mahomes. Arizona, I was told, was not going to select him at No. 13.
Looking back: It came out later that the New Orleans Saints — picking after the Chiefs at No. 11 — would have taken Mahomes. The Chiefs did give up a lot. Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson were available the next year — as were Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen. Who knows what would have happened if the Chiefs don’t make their move in 2017?
Steven Ruiz, USA Today (link)
Analysis: Calling Mahomes a project is a major understatement. He’s nowhere near ready to play in the NFL. And, honestly, he may never be. Between his inconsistent accuracy due to poor mechanics, his tendency to bail from clean pockets and his lack of field vision, he’s going to leave as many big plays on the field as he creates. This was a risky pick.
Looking back: Brrrrrrrrrr, this take is cold! But then again, who knows? The Chiefs may have seen some of the issues Ruiz addressed — and because of them, made Mahomes a backup for a season.