2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Prospect:  Patrick Mahomes


School:          Texas Tech
Ht:  6'3"       Wt:  230
Eligibility:      JR
Uniform:       #5
Position:      QB

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Growing up in Texas, I was aware of the record-setting numbers the Texas Tech scheme was capable of putting up on offense. It didn't take me long to understand the simplicity and one-dimensional design of the system often led to less-talented quarterbacks putting up insane numbers. Still, when I saw Mahomes play for the first time, I knew that this kid had talent unlike any of the top signal-callers to show up in Lubbock the past 20 years. He has the physical capabilities to become an NFL-caliber quarterback, but unfortunately, he will still have to make up for the handicap that growing up in that scheme has created. While I consider some quarterbacks to be projects in this class, Mahomes takes that title to another level. Still, in the right circumstance and with the right tutelage, he could find himself running an NFL offense one day.

Let's start with the positives. Mahomes has a strong arm and a somewhat reasonable throwing motion. It is quick and compact, and while he doesn't always repeat the motion, the ball has zip off his fingertips. He puts touch on his passes when necessary, and occasionally demonstrates anticipation in his throws. He also shows the ability to make throws on the run when he escapes the pocket. Most importantly, he is a competitor. He never quits on a play, and he hates to lose. That coupled with some surprising athleticism and a sturdy frame is enough to make me think he has a chance to be in the first handful of quarterbacks drafted.

Now let's have a look at the areas that worry me. As I mentioned earlier, the system at Texas Tech is extremely simple. The only time he has ever lined up under center is on an occasional quarterback sneak. On half of his pass plays he doesn't even drop back, instead just catching the snap and throwing. Because of this, his footwork is atrocious. His feet are often planted and that turns him into a statue. He has no idea how to maneuver in a pocket or how to do anything but retreat backward when a rusher gets loose. Keeping your feet active is essential to being able to avoid the rush and moving around within the pocket. Active feet also make it possible for a player to always throw from an ideal platform. That is an area where Mahomes may be one of the worst in the country. He throws off-balance more than any player I have studied, and while the system could be too blame for relying on quick throws and timing so much, there are plenty of instances where his feet are just lazy. This same issue also sees him throw with some unusual arm-angles. Often quarterbacks with gifted arms get complacent and lose discipline but once again with Mahomes, it happens far too often when it isn't necessary. There are honestly throws where he looks like a second baseman turning a double play.

All of those issues are correctable with coaching and repetition, but there are others that aren't. First of all, it is going to be a wake-up call when he sees an NFL playbook and the responsibilities of the quarterback position. The system at Texas Tech doesn't put much responsibility on his shoulders, rather relying on coaches to make audibles and changes. He hardly ever makes pre-snap reads regarding what coverage the defense is in or who is coming on a blitz. In the NFL, you must always know where each of the two safeties are, as well as where the middle linebacker is lined up. This helps you understand the coverage and how the front seven is shading the offensive formation. These reads help you understand who may be actually blitzing or lining up to take the place of someone blitzing. It helps you understand if they are disguising a coverage or where you have a mismatch or single coverage with no help. Off of that information, you make protection adjustments, call for hot routes, or even change the play entirely. Sometimes you predetermine that you have a matchup you like and make it a priority to get to that point in your progression. It isn't the same as just staring down a receiver and throwing it to him. You go through your normal progressions to ensure the defense reacts appropriately. You look players off, and you stare receivers down in order to make sure that the matchup you really favor is in fact what you are getting. Manipulating defenses like this is a skill that can't be taught. It is acquired through time and experience. This is an area that this system has prepared him for very little. I liken the learning curve that he is going to encounter to a toddler that has just learned his ABC's and told he is now going to start learning Chinese. In that sense, the ABC's much like the Texas Tech system have prepared him little if at all for what he is going to experience next.

I also worry about his decision-making. Some quarterbacks develop a default mentality to just fire the ball out of bounds when they are rushed, while others avoid major contact by just collapsing to the ground. Mahomes fires it off his back foot as far as he can near any receiver he sees in the same uniform as his. This is not only unacceptable, but it is inexplicable. He also has a tendency to fire the ball across his body and sometimes completely across the field once he has escaped the pocket. On the rare occasion, it makes for an incredible play reminiscent of Johnny Football in his Heisman campaign. Still, just like Johnny Manziel, it ends up in disaster far more often. He also maneuvers both in and out of the pocket with the ball too far from his frame. This lack of respect for ball security is a major red flag. I will say that this behavior is a bit understandable given his competitive nature and the deficits his team sometimes finds themselves in. Still, he has to be a much more disciplined player if he is ever going to get a chance at starting in the NFL.

Mahomes was a three-year starter, and while I have repeatedly questioned how much experience in that system is worth, the time and effort put into being a starter and wanting to get better over that span is indisputable. It takes a lot of hard work and a true leader to continuously come out and compete as he did in each and every game. He also grew up in a family where his father was a professional athlete. Preparing for games will be completely different than he is used to, but his competitive nature leads me to believe that it won't be an issue for him. Overall, I thought guys like Jared Goff would need a year on the bench before being ready to play in the NFL. I thought guys like Paxton Lynch needed a few years. Mahomes may need even more than that. A waiting period similar to Tony Romo may be the best way to go. Let him compete for the second quarterback position in his first training camp and each one after until he wins that job, and then let him start competing for the starting position. It is certainly a long shot, but if it could result in a future franchise quarterback, there has to be at least one team willing to give it a try.

Compares to (Current NFL Player): Chase Daniel (Philadelphia Eagles) or Bryce Petty (New York Jets)

- Well above-average arm strength
- Quick, compact release
- Knack for making plays out of the pocket
- Accurate/Shows touch when necessary
- Relentless competitor

- Footwork needs a lot of work
- System in college did very little preparing him for the preparation or the mental side of the game
- Needs to be more discipline in every sense of playing the position (ball security, decision making, throwing technique)
- History is not on his side for players that need this kind of patience

Austin Smith
January 26, 2017

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