Will Chiefs selection of Patrick Mahomes and other bold draft moves lead to big dividends in the future?

Patrick Mahomes draft pick

They finally did it! The Kansas City Chiefs traded up in the first round of the NFL Draft, which had Chiefs Kingdom all abuzz. Then, they took quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the first round. The trade was the first of four the Chiefs made to improve selections in the draft. The world as we know it changed.

We all know the stats. The Chiefs had not drafted a quarterback in the first round since selecting Todd Blackledge out of Penn State in 1983. They have since drafted 10 quarterbacks, but none in the first round, and none of those has won a start for the Chiefs.

In the draft that saw Hall of Famers John Elway (No. 1), Jim Kelly (No. 14) and Dan Marino (No. 27) selected among six first-round quarterbacks, the Chiefs took Blackledge No. 7. It’s no stretch to say that it didn’t work out well for the Chiefs, as Blackledge finished with a 13-11 record as a starter in five years with the Chiefs, and 15-14 in his seven-year career.

He had a 29/38 career touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio. He has a career passer rating of 60.2. That’s not good.

The Chiefs hope to end the drought with the selection of Patrick Mahomes II, the 6-3, 229-pound quarterback from Texas Tech with the 10th overall pick. He likely will have a year or two to watch Alex Smith spin it for the Chiefs before he’s called on to lead the team and end the winless-draft-pick streak.

How much did the Chiefs covet Patrick Mahomes, the second quarterback selected in this year’s draft? They traded their first-round pick (No. 27), one of their two third-round picks (No. 91) and next year’s first-round pick to Buffalo to move up 17 spots and select Mahomes. It was the biggest trade of the draft.

“We felt like we got a good football player,” coach Andy Reid said. “When (GM John Dorsey) sees a good player that he likes, he’s going to attack it and go get him.”

Reid sees Patrick Mahomes as the future, not the present.

“Patrick is not ready to play,” Reid continued. “He’s got some work to do. But he’s coming into a great (quarterback) room. He gets the opportunity to learn from Alex Smith. It will be a phenomenal experience for him.”

Many Chiefs fans were hopeful the Chiefs had moved up to select Deshaun Watson, the quarterback who led Clemson to the national championship in 2016. Watson is clearly a winner, but his pre-draft analysis makes him sound like Alex Smith Junior. He would have been a safe pick, with less risk but less potential to be “the man.”

Reid and Dorsey decided if they were going to trade up that far in the draft, they needed to go “all in.”

Patrick Mahomes steps into a situation with the Chiefs with a fairly low bar to clear, and plenty of time to clear it. Chiefs fans can dream big. Take a look at some of the comparisons.

“He is a big-time gunslinger like Brett Favre,” said Mike Mayock of the NFL Network. Others compare his arm strength to Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

The biggest knock against Alex Smith is his inability—or unwillingness—to throw deep. That will not be an issue with Patrick Mahomes.

At Texas Tech, he threw 77 touchdown passes, and ran for 22 more the last two seasons! He threw for 5,053 yards last year alone, the only QB in FBS to have back-to-back 5,000-yard seasons. Detractors will note the Texas Tech system that rarely translates to success in the NFL, but the consensus is that he will change that perception.

One unnamed NFL executive said, “He’s got a great arm…and he’s mobile. He is going to drive his head coach crazy for the first couple of years and there is no getting around that. If it clicks for him and he’s coachable, I think he could become a special quarterback.”

If you were looking for the anti-Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes should make you salivate: “Possesses NFL body type for work inside and out of the pocket,” his NFL.com draft profile states. “Has an undeniable swagger and confidence to his game. Accuracy has improved in each season since his freshman year. Naturally accurate in his every day throws. Comfortable challenging defenders in space. Has arm strength and fearlessness to attack the cover-2 voids down the sideline. Can make deep throws. Cranks up velocity to fit passes into tight windows. Can deliver strikes from a variety of arm angles.”

Are you pumped up yet?

Patrick Mahomes said all the right things immediately after his selection. But don’t expect him to be content carrying a clipboard for very long.

“I’m going to come in and work my tail off,” Mahomes said. “Whenever the opportunity comes, I’ll be ready to play. When you have a great team around you, you just do what you’re supposed to do.”

In the second round, the Chiefs against drafted for potential. They selected defensive end Villanova Tanoh Kpassagnon. The team hopes it won’t take as long for him to crack the lineup as it will for fans to learn how to spell and pronounce (TAWN-oh pass-N-yo) his name.

Kpassagnon, who is 6-7 and 289 pounds, became the first Villanova defensive player to be drafted since NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long in 1981.<

“He’s a top-notch, raw, developmental player,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “He has a huge upside. There are not many players coming out of college with his size, length and athletic ability.”

Said Dorsey, “He understands how to use his length. I really think the upside for him is excellent.”

The Chiefs stayed aggressive in the third round, trading up to the 86th pick to grab running back Kareem Hunt out of Toledo. Hunt is 5-11, 216 pounds, and he rushed for a school-record 4,945 yards in his career. He toted 262 times for 1,475 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games in 2016.

To move up, the Chiefs traded their third-round (No. 104), plus their fourth-round (No. 132) and their seventh-round (No. 245) picks to get the 86th pick.

Kiper said guys like Hunt are the reason he never recommends taking a running back in the first round. “If you can get a guy like Kareem Hunt in round three, he’s a whale of a pick. He can have an impact rookie campaign.”

Louis Riddick, another NFL analyst for ESPN, compared Hunt to Emmitt Smith, the all-time leading rusher in NFL history. “He’s got that kind of a lower body. He has great hands out of the backfield. I know Kansas City is ecstatic about getting this guy.”

And of course, what better team for him to play for than Kansas City, which has been owned by the Hunt family since its inception.

After trading their fourth-round pick to grab Hunt, it appeared the Chiefs would wait until the fifth round to make their next selection. But again, they traded up. They selected Jehu Chesson, a 6-3, wide receiver from Michigan.

“He’s got a really good combination of size, speed and ball skills,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said, “and he has elite intangibles and football character. I would argue that there is not a wide receiver in this class who is more effective and gives better effort at run-blocking.”

Chesson’s biggest negative is a lack of consistency, especially his senior year.

The Chiefs traded two of their three fifth-round picks (Nos. 170 and 180) to get the Vikings’ 139th overall pick to get Chesson. They still had one fifth-round pick left (No. 183), which they got from New England for one of their sixth-round picks (No. 216) and veteran tight end Dan O’Shaughnessy.

With that pick, the Chiefs continued to challenge their reporters’ spell-checking skills by taking linebacker Ukeme “Marcus” Eligwe from Georgia Southern. At 6-1, 234 pounds, he ran a 4.57 40 at the NFL Combine. He led his team in tackles (104), tackles for loss (11) and forced fumbles (3) in 2016.

>With the last pick of the sixth round, the Chiefs selected Leon McQuay from Southern California. The 6-2, 185-pound safety has good speed and ball skills. He’ll have the chance to learn from Eric Berry, so like many of the other picks, he appears to be in the right place.

The Chiefs started the draft with 10 picks and finished with six, as they used their quantity in picks to trade for quality. Only two of their selections were in their original slots. Their picks were mostly about the future, with only Hunt looking like a possible 2017 starter. But the Chiefs were active movers, willing to take risks for big rewards.

For more coverage of the Chiefs visit http://kcsportspaper.com/category/pro-teams/

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Article by David Smale

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