Dave Hyde: Mahomes’ brilliance shines on Kansas City’s smarter methods

The scout watched video of a Texas Tech offensive tackle before the 2017 draft and saw something he didn’t expect. It’s what no one else in the NFL saw over the next year.

The scout, Brett Veach, pulled up another video that first day as confirmation. And then another. He began watching so many relevant videos that one time Kansas City coach Andy Reid asked what he was watching.

“The next quarterback of the Chiefs,’’ he said.

It’s so obvious now, isn’t it? Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is on the doorstep of his third Super Bowl ring in six years. His winning is uncharted at age 28, and the question becomes if he can catch Tom Brady as the most decorated quarterback of all.

Clearly, Mahomes knows how to do this. He knows how to win with pressure weighing him down like a wet topcoat. He knows how to navigate fame and celebrity in addition to whatever defense is thrown his way.

Clearly, too, Mahomes married into the right organization. This Super Bowl is a rematch of four years ago in Miami, and that only began to tell what’s at work here. Kansas City plays its fourth Super Bowl in five years. San Francisco has reached two Super Bowls and had two other seasons end in the NFC Championship games in those five years.

Such sustained success offers the two paths to greatness with a common root. The first path is the one the Miami Dolphins tried of being bad for years. San Francisco had five draft picks in the top 10, including two No. 2 picks and a No. 3 pick.

The other way is to be smarter than everyone. That’s the Kansas City way. Reid and Mahomes can win their third Super Bowl in Las Vegas. They’re trending toward the Bill Belichick and Brady of this generation.

But there’s a partner at the top with them, the third star you need beyond a great coach and great quarterback to have this kind of championship run. Kansas City didn’t start with a draft pick higher than 18th in the last decade.

How have they kept winning? Start with Veach recognizing the talent of a sophomore Mahomes and pestering Reid so much heading into the 2017 draft that they made a bold move for him.

Chicago took quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 pick that draft. Eight other teams took other positional players. Buffalo, a year before taking Josh Allen, traded the 10th pick and Kansas City leap-frogged from No. 27 despite having a Pro Bowl quarterback in Alex Smith.

“It’s something we felt we had to do,’’ Veach said four years ago at the Miami Super Bowl. “Patrick’s talent decided it for us.”

There’s the common root between the Chiefs and 49ers. They’re the rare organizations that can recognize and develop quarterbacks. San Francisco has done it with two quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy. Is either elite? Are they good talents who’ve won in coach Kyle Shanahan’s system?

Shanahan is talented enough that the big whiff on Trey Lance with the third pick in 2021 hasn’t mattered. They’re still winning behind a young quarterback.

The difference in these Super Bowl models is Purdy remains on a rookie contract, while Kansas City has done what few teams can. It paid Mahomes a big contract, made difficult salary-cap decisions like trading receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins and kept on winning.

Veach, promoted to general manger two years after drafting Mahomes, built through the draft. The defense starts eight players he drafted, including seven still on rookie contracts. That second-rated defense confused Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Chiefs’ 17-10 win in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Mahomes has minimal playmakers beyond Travis Kelce. His offensive line is average. But he smartly understands how to win. He has four touchdowns passes these playoffs and no interceptions.

He hasn’t made the mistakes that defined the playoff games of the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Allen and Jackson on the other side. Mahomes scored 17 points in the first half Sunday and didn’t press the game with the second-half lead.

“You don’t take it for granted,” Mahomes said of returning to the Super Bowl. “You never know how many you’re going to get to or if you’re going to get to any.”

Kansas City has the one player you need to win year after year. Everyone knows him. No one knows Leach. He’s the guy every championship organization also has, while the losing organizations wonder what they’re missing.