Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
6-foot-2, 225 pounds
Key stat: Had an incredible statistical final season for the Red Raiders, passing for 5,052 yards (421 per game), 41 TDs, 10 interceptions with a 65.7 completion percentage, and he rushed for 285 yards and 12 TDs.
The skinny: Son of former MLB pitcher Pat Mahomes also was known to have a good fastball (up to 93 mph) coming out of high school but chose football as his ultimate path. As a true freshman in 2014, Mahomes replaced an injured Davis Webb (who would transfer to Cal after the 2015 season) and start the Red Raiders’ final four games, including a 598-yard, six-TD game against Baylor at AT&T Stadium. Over the following two seasons, Mahomes would pass for 77 TDs and run for 22 more in 25 games.
Mahomes, who declared early for the 2017 NFL draft, turns 22 early next season.
Best-suited destination: A team that has a long-term need to fill at quarterback (such as the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and others) or a team with a looming financial decision at the position (such as the Buffalo Bills or Washington Redskins) could draft Mahomes as a provisional 2018 starter.
Teams with a more immediate need at the position, such as the Cleveland Browns, also could be strongly interested but must be willing to be patient in order to see his full potential. But whatever team drafts him, it had better be confident it has a quarterback coach who is willing to put in the extra work with Mahomes and an offensive coordinator who is willing to reshape some offensive parameters to fill his skills.
Upside: Rare arm with the ability to sling the ball all over the field from different arm angles. Registered highest mph of any quarterback at the NFL scouting combine. The entire field is in play when he has the ball. Can throw the deep out from the far hashmark and arc the ball over DBs’ heads (see Oklahoma game). Drills the quick slant with confidence. Mahomes carries himself like a leader and wants the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Has a real swagger and confidence that he can make any play. Throws well on the move and seeks to draw in defenders with threat of run and then sling it past or over them. Very good short-yardage runner, with toughness to take hits and plow through them, plus quickness and vision to see holes and burst through them. Got the tar knocked out of him at times (see Kansas State game) and kept coming back for more. Likable personality, seen by NFL people as coachable and driven.
Downside: Mechanically, he can be a mess. Maddening footwork consistency: perfect on one play, sloppy and flawed on the next. Runs out of clean pockets when his first option isn’t immediately open. Will throw off his back foot and against his body at least a handful of plays in almost every game. Plays hero ball and can leave passes up for grabs for defenders. Averaged a pick per game the past two seasons, predominantly against subpar defenses of the Big 12. Played in a freewheeling, free-form offensive structure. Was allowed to improvise and create on the go. Where there was structure, the offense included a lot of predetermined throws and half-field reads. Arm strength is great and all, but some of his passes could use more touch and better placement. Doesn’t always free pressure and will expose himself to unnecessary hits and sacks. He will need his bad habits coached out of him and should not be counted on as instant coffee in the NFL.
This is the kind of gunslinger play that looks amazing on the highlight reel and stat sheet but is graded as a negative play by the scouting and coaching community:
Scouting hot take: “He is who we wanted Johnny Manziel to be. That’s both a good and a bad thing. He’s a gamer, but he’s a real project.” — NFL area scout during the college season
Player comp: Yes, we’ve heard everything from Manziel to Brett Favre to Colin Kaepernick — and Mahomes has elements of all three in his game. Mahomes might drive his coaches crazy but also will deliver the classic “no, no no, no … yes!” type of throws almost every time he hits the field.
Expected draft range: Top 40 pick, likely creeping up into the mid-to-late first round
Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams
No. 45. Washington CB Sidney Jones
No. 44. Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
No. 43. Ohio State WR-RB Curtis Samuel
No. 42. Florida DT Caleb Brantley
No. 41. Connecticut DB Obi Melifonwu
No. 40. USC CB-KR Adoree’ Jackson
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