Patrick Mahomes’ NFL Draft stock is on the rise, and some now suggest he’s right up there among the top three quarterback prospects in the draft, with DeShone Kizer falling behind Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Mitchell Trubisky.
But, unlike the other three quarterbacks, Mahomes is not someone we’ve dug into much around here so far this draft season. Given that the Bears are still likely to draft a quarterback at some point in April, even after adding Mark Sanchez to the fold today, it’s worth exploring Mahomes a bit more.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently shared his analysis of the top five quarterback prospects, of which Mahomes is present ranking fifth behind Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, and California’s Davis Webb. Brooks lists pro comparisons for each, ranging from Jameis Winston, to Alex Smith, Marcus Mariota, and Sam Bradford. These are all reasonable comparisons for talented, young quarterbacks with notable flaws.
But it’s Mahomes’ comp that should raise eyebrows, especially among Bears fans.
First, let’s share some of Mahomes’ strengths and weaknesses as listed by Brooks to see what kind of package a team would be getting in Mahomes.
- “Gunslinger with an extraordinary combination of athleticism and arm talent.”
- “[A] sandlot player with the arm strength to make every conceivable hero throw imaginable from a balanced or off-platform setup.”
- “Although his unorthodox style will drive some offensive coordinators crazy … natural talents allow him to pull rabbits out of the hat as a magician-like playmaker from the pocket.”
- “[R]are arm talent allows him to make throws that ordinary passers cannot, due to a lack of arm strength or courage.”
All in all, these are things you like to see in a young quarterback, as the natural talent is the foundation for future success, and cannot be created where it doesn’t exist.
- “[S]loppy fotwork and mechanics will need to be retooled before he can become a more accurate passer from the pocket.”
- “[A]ble to overcome his shoddy technique as a collegian, but NFL defenders will make him pay for his errant tosses by snagging picks off tips or overthrows.”
- “Given the impact of turnovers on the outcome of NFL games, Mahomes’ sloppy footwork must be addressed to help him play winning football at the position.”
These are notable weaknesses, but every prospect has them. It is up to the coaching staff that acquires this player to refine and tweak to get the most out of the player. It’s never easy, but if done right, it’s well worth it.
Now, if any of this seems familiar, it might be because the traits listed above are eerily similar to what you might say about former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler … who is Brooks’ comp for Mahomes.
And Brooks is not the only one, as Mike Mayock has weighed in with a similar perspective. And at the Combine, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the Bears were out to see how apt the Mahomes-Cutler comparisons were as they continued their search for stability at quarterback.
This isn’t to say something negative of Mahomes, who clearly has the kind of physical traits successful quarterbacks own, despite also having a need for mechanical cleanups. Nor is this a shot at Cutler, whose Bears career got of to a 34-22 start before injuries and front office mismanagement derailed the franchise after the 2012 season.
However, the Mahomes-Cutler comparison provides a cautionary tale of prospect hype, while also allowing for the reality that modern college quarterbacks are always a work in progress, because of the learning curve that takes place at the pro level — no matter what kind of athletic ability or arm talent a player possesses.
Mahomes is moving up draft boards thanks in part to his size, build, arm talent, and the very obvious need for productive quarterback play that at least half of the teams in the NFL could use. The Texas Tech product would be a shot in the arm to a team in search of a fresh face to get behind or a developmental piece for a team with an aging quarterback, or even a safety blanket for a team with an established starter that has bigger short-term aspirations.
For what it’s worth, Brooks lists Kizer and Watson as fits for the Bears in his quarterback outlook — but not Mahomes, Trubisky, or Webb.
It should be reiterated that all of the aforementioned quarterbacks have positive traits to build around, but it’s up to the Bears to find their fit and work to build him up moving forward. Mahomes’ performance at the NFL Combine (in drills and interviews) will help the Bears’ decision-making process, while player comparisons should help guide expectations.