Breakdown of Pat Mahomes by Bucky Brooks, what I found interesting was the mindset of play
callers when dealing with a mobile QB (paragraph bolded):
QB prospect worthy of the hype? Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes has generated plenty of buzz in league circles, but he remains one of the most challenging evaluations in the 2017 draft class. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound gunslinger is unquestionably one of the most talented passers in the draft after passing for more than 11,000 yards and 93 touchdowns with only 29 interceptions in three seasons. Although the Red Raiders' Air Raid system certainly makes statistical stars out of every field general that steps behind the center, Mahomes' impressive combination of arm talent and athleticism gives him a legitimate shot of becoming a franchise quarterback at the next level.
"He definitely has the tools to be a No. 1," said an NFC scout. "He's big and athletic with big-time arm talent. I know his numbers are inflated but he can make all of the throws. I think the kid can play. ... I like him a lot!"
Despite the effusive praise being lavished on Mahomes, I believe evaluators face quite a dilemma when assessing his talent and potential. While there's no disputing his physical skills, there are certainly valid concerns regarding his ability to master a pro scheme after thriving in a system that allowed him to throw 40-plus times each week. Sure, the reps help the quarterback master the art of throwing the ball, but the simple reads and pick-and-stick throws associated with the scheme don't necessarily translate to the pro game. Thus, a team willing to take on Mahomes should consider him a developmental prospect and map out a long-term plan to help him grow into the position.
Considering those factors alone, I was a little surprised to hear my colleague Ian Rapoport tell the Setting The Edge podcast that several people have pegged Mahomes as their "favorite quarterback" in the draft. Now, I definitely understand how evaluators fall in love with prospects based on their natural talents and athleticism, but quarterbacks are evaluated differently due to the rigorous demands of the position, particularly from a mental standpoint. In the NFL, the quarterback is the de facto CEO of the team and he must possess the leadership skills, aptitude, and diagnostic skills to direct an offense between the lines.
Considering how the quarterback is viewed as the joystick for the offensive coordinator in the video-game-like Air Raid system, there are valid concerns regarding Mahomes' ability to assimilate into a pro-style scheme. Remember, there haven't been many NFL success stories in the Air Raid tree (Washington State, Texas Tech and Cal) despite the gaudy resumes of the field generals that have starred in the system. Sure, Jared Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, but the football world is still waiting to see if he eventually cuts the mustard as a franchise quarterback. That's why there is some hesitation in anointing Mahomes as one of the top prospects due to the repeated failures of his predecessors from the system.
NFL Scouting Combine
Dates: Feb. 28-March 6TV: NFL Network
Notable prospects not invited
Schools with most players attending combine
NFL players not invited to combine
Combine through the years
After studying the tape of Mahomes' game, I believe his shoddy footwork and mechanics might trump the concerns about his ability to master concepts of an NFL scheme. Mahomes rarely takes a traditional drop in the pocket and his penchant for throwing balls while fading away or from a flat-foot platform leads to wayward throws down the field. In a league where accuracy is coveted at a premium, Mahomes' inconsistent mechanics could lead to a number of turnovers on tips and overthrows.
While watching a "sandlot" playmaker deliver a few splash plays on tape is tantalizing, it's hard for a play caller to work with an improvisational specialist at the position when attempting to build winning game plans. Offensive coordinators prefer to take a systematic approach akin to a chess match when picking apart defenses from the press box (or sidelines) and it's challenging to stick to the script when the QB1 is at his best throwing alley oops at the end of scrambles. Now, that statement isn't meant to discredit Mahomes' talent as a big, athletic gunslinger, but his style of play doesn't necessarily fit structured systems that expect the quarterback to hit his designated receivers on time after going through his progressions.
With that in mind, I'm still having a tough time envisioning Mahomes as a top-tier quarterback prospect despite his natural talents and potential. -- Bucky Brooks