Over the next several months I will be reaching out to a number of writers to give thoughts on prospects, but you will see a lot of recurring guests as well.
Chad Dinkins is one of the people I talk to the most about prospects, and he will be taking a look at a number of the quarterbacks, starting with an intriguing prospect out of the Big 12.
Patrick Mahomes II
6’2” 219 JR
2015: 364/573 4653 YDS 36 TD 15 INT
2016: 340/509 4230 YDS 34 TD 8 INT
Career: 809/1267 10430 YDS 86 TD 27 INT
I don’t write as much as I used to, but I still enjoy watching NFL Draft prospects and chatting it up with the masses on twitter, and friends who are more well-known writers. I’ve always liked watching quarterbacks more than any other position group, so I was all in when Seth asked if I’d like to give my thoughts on Pat Mahomes II.
Mahomes II comes from the Air Raid system, often considered a death sentence to draft standing before Jared Goff was selected first overall in last year’s class. Mahomes II is putting up the same “video game” numbers previous Air Raid guys produced, but is displaying some physical traits that the others haven’t.
When evaluating quarterbacks, I look at seven attributes on a scale of 1-10. These attributes are all important, but not necessarily evenly weighted in the eyes of the NFL or scouts. Let’s take a look at the nuts and bolts of Patrick Mahomes II and his NFL outlook. My grades out of 10 will be in brackets.
Mahomes II checks out over the 6’ threshold for height. The NFL is adamant about it, and we have seen it work more often than not. You will find the diamond in the rough like Flutie, Brees, or Wilson, but more strike out than succeed. Mahomes II checks in at 6’2” and 219 pounds, with only his hand size (yes, it matters to NFL teams) to be checked.
Arm Strength (8):
Many in the #DraftTwitter world laugh this off, but arm strength is still a major attribute for quarterbacks. It doesn’t mean success, but it does mean that strong-armed passers will be given more chances to succeed. Mahomes II has a plus arm he can use to attack every level of the field from inside or outside of the pocket.
I had an ex-NFL wide receiver tell me how Joe Montana was so accurate that he could split the body in half when throwing routes to keep his receivers away from taking a big hit. I’m sure Montana isn’t the only quarterback to do this but it stuck with me. These quarterbacks are elite players at the position, and keeping their receivers away from head-hunting defenders is as important as being able to throw it with precision. Mahomes II throws a very catchable ball, with a tight spin, while giving his receivers the opportunity to get yards after the catch. He shows accuracy to all levels of the field, and has great touch deep, as well as being able to drive the ball inside the hashes.
An important part of passing, whether in football or basketball, is knowing the type of pass needed for the situation. Not every pass requires a fast ball and not every pass can be finessed. It’s a learning curve for many quarterbacks to understand, and can be very evident when a quarterback is throwing into a “Cover 2” window or down the seam. Mahomes II displays the understanding of when to cut it loose no matter the level of the field, as well as when to put a little air under the ball.
Set Up/Delivery/Release (6):
One area that Mahomes II needs to clean up is after he receives the snap. He has a tendency to have happy feet, and rely on his arm while laying a lot of weight on his backside. His arm can get it done in college, but these mechanical flaws could lead to major issues at the next level. Mahomes II’s delivery is a little unorthodox as he has a tendency to wind up and throw from shoulder like a baseball pitcher with a three-quarter delivery. He shows plenty of examples of getting on top of the ball, and that’s when his zip is most apparent. The ball “pops” out of his hand on release no matter which platform he throws from.
Mahomes II won’t be used as Cam Newton is in the NFL, but his mobility inside and out of the pocket is similar to Russell Wilson’s (not saying he is Wilson). Mahomes II is a passer first when he is moving around the pocket, and he keeps his eyes downfield very well. But he gives the threat to run the read option at the next level, and that adds extra pressure on the defense.
Pocket Presence/Poise/Decision Making/Football IQ (7):
The general draft pundit will never know about some of these attributes since we don’t get to see the players up close and personal in an interview, or in a grease board setting. Dan Pompei had a great article on Dak Prescott and how the grease board and interview sold Dallas on what we see now. Those were traits we couldn't know from simply watching college tape.
Mahomes II has always played with an above average arm, and he has a gun-slinger mentality.
This mentality leads to bad decisions, and thinking he can stick the ball into tight windows that maybe he shouldn’t test. He shows the understanding of defensive concepts thrown his way, and he knows where the ball needs to go.
I am not a big “progression” guy as none of us know what QBs and coaches have decided on in meetings - who and where to attack - but we can see Mahomes II’s eyes and feet bounce around in the pocket from one side of the field to the other. He has taken a beating at times at Texas Tech, but is always upbeat and positive from this viewpoint with his teammates. He has the ability to elevate the play of the players around him. Inside the pocket, he is typically calm and moves without panicking.
Mahomes II checks all the boxes when it comes to what the NFL looks for. #DraftTwitter can whine all day about what the NFL looks for - the height, the arm - but that isn’t changing anytime soon.
Mahomes II has the physical size and frame to add a little more weight up the 225 pound area. He has a plus arm which will keep him on rosters no matter what else transpires, and he shows a great command of the concepts he’s been presented with thus far. Mahomes II will have to fight the stigma of the Air Raid offense, but he possesses the best skill traits of any quarterback to come from the system since Tim Couch in 1999.
Mahomes II will be one of the quarterbacks discussed as a “riser” once tape is studied, but he shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’s a legitimate, early second round prospect, and possibly even a first rounder once the dust settles. He could even become one of the top three quarterbacks in this class, and may have the highest ceiling of them all.