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2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Patrick Mahomes II; the double edged sword

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The Pittsburgh Steelers may be in the market for a quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft, and Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech might just fit the bill.

A QB from Texas Tech succeeding in the pros is almost unheard of. When you think of Texas Tech, you think of guys like Graham Harrell, or even the coach who’s at the helm now Kiff Kingsbury, as guys who really had a lot of college success but couldn’t have it translate to the NFL.

Is Patrick Mahomes II different?

That is the million dollar question that I’m going to tackle today.

Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech

Combine results and measurables (*Note these will be updated when available.)

Height: 6-3

Weight: 230 LBs

Age: 22

Arm Length: N/A

40 yard dash: N/A

Vertical jump: N/A

Broad jump: N/A

20 yard shuttle: N/A

3-cone drill: N/A

Overview:

2016 Statistics

Passing Yards: 5052

Completion Percentage: 65.7%

TDs: 41

INTs: 10

Patrick Mahomes II was lightly recruited coming out of high school as a 3 star recruit.

What is definitely important to understand about Patrick Mahomes II was that he did not even start playing football till 7th grade. His dad, Patrick Mahomes I, played Major League Baseball for 11 years as a pitcher. His son, at first when he got to Texas Tech, played both Baseball and Football, but he ended up passing on Baseball in 2016 to focus more on Football.

What I find interesting about that is going back just from the top of my head, I can name several really good QBs who played baseball. Tom Brady, Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, all of these QBs have some sort of baseball background.

Patrick Mahomes, according to Bruce Feldman, will train with QB coach Mike Sheppard.

The biggest problem Patrick Mahomes II faces from becoming one of those guys is the offensive system he plays in. He plays in an air raid offensive scheme. He doesn’t take snaps under center and the system is predicated on predetermined reads. This system has a huge history of QBs who didn’t work out like Johnny Manziel and Graham Harrell, to name a few. Really, the only QB that has had success in the NFL coming from that system was Nick Foles.

That said, there are moments where Mahomes flashes that he’s more than a system QB. Mahomes, for one, has absolutely “stupid” arm talent, as he can actually toss the football 65 -yards from his knees.

It’s not just arm talent that caught my eye though. For a guy with such a big arm, he throws with some nice touch and ball placement. I, for one, was very surprised with the control he shows of his offense, often looking like a field general, barking out orders and making some sort of adjustment. What really surprised me though was his really absurd accuracy. It actually doesn’t make sense when you watch his feet, he throws off platform so well that two questions come to your mind:

One: If he’s this good now, how much better can he be with improved footwork?

Two: What if he’s so used to throwing with bad mechanics that “fixing” it ruins his accuracy?

Another area Mahomes impressed me was how he had great flashes of being able to look off safeties and make tight windowed throws with anticipation. A big aspect for me with QBs is they need a quick release so the delivery doesn’t take too long, which allows the throw to be out on time, and Mahomes has it. Of course, I can’t forget to mention just how much of a “magician” he can be with his improvisation as a play breaks down. It’s almost Farve or Roethlisberger-esque.

Speaking of Farve, Mahomes at times will make you scratch your head with some of the dumb throws he makes. Sometimes he’ll eye down his receiver trying to somehow make an unconventional throw (you’ll see what I mean) that doesn’t work. Other times he simply tries to do much when he needs to learn to play another down (it’s his style). Then of course, the footwork, rarely will you ever see him step into this throw with him shifting his weight into it and often his front foot will never be pointing towards his target.

So let’s take a closer look for ourselves and just why he’s such a polarizing prospect at the QB position.

Positives: Touch and ball placement

For someone who can bullet passes into really tight windows due to his arm strength, Mahomes can throw some absolute dimes when it comes to touch passes.

Remember what I said about Mahomes footwork? Yeah, an absolute train wreck, but I almost feel like he’s learned to throw so well with bad footwork that it allows him to make such beautiful throws off platform such as this one.

Sure that was a nice catch, but the ball placement on this pass is about as good as you can get while under pressure and throwing in between two defenders. He threw it over the underneath defender and to the sideline away from the over the top defender. Don’t forget the fact he was not even stepping into this throw (hence off platform) and had a defender barreling down on him as he released it.

You can teach footwork but you can’t the ability to throw a touch pass off your back foot into a tight window. That’s something you either learned at a young age or it was gifted to you at birth.

Mahomes isn’t just restricted though from just making plays outside the pocket.

While this pass was not completed, there were 3 key traits Mahomes shows on this play. I liked how he stood in the pocket and threw it with a big guy breaking through the line. The touch on the throw made the pass easy to catch and the ball placement he had putting it away from the defender and in the breadbasket of his intended receiver.

Only reason this wasn’t a touchdown was because the defender made an excellent play grabbing the receivers arm, causing the pass to be incomplete.

So the footwork on that play was about as normal for him as it gets (not a compliment). Not to mention he keeps his front leg planted in the ground and he doesn’t properly distribute his weight into the throw.

Essentially he’s throwing with all arm, no mechanics.

Positives: Eye Manipulation and throwing with anticipation

This trait is something you’re not going to see a lot from a QB. There’s a lot of QBs that simply eye down their first read, not getting through their progressions, or, they try to stare down a route and the defensive back jumps on it.

This happens at least once each game, I see Mahomes manipulate defenders with his eyes.

A multitude of things are happening on this play. First the slot WR running the deep post towards the middle looks to be the primary target, so what Mahomes does is he trusts that the WR will beat his matchup.

Whether this is by design or not, Mahomes stares down the right side of the field hoping to get the safety to bite on that side and create an open spot over the middle. Mahomes throw’s it a bit behind but he releases it as soon as the WR comes out of his break, throwing with anticipation and trusting his WR will be open.

His WR ends up taking this to the house for a touchdown but Mahomes showed two great traits on this one play.

Eye manipulation and throwing with anticipation.

When Mahomes uses his eyes and is able to anticipate when a receiver is going to break open more consistently, he could be a really a good QB in the pros.

Take a look at this play.

I only point out two routes on this play, one is the deep dig and the other is a go route.

Watch what Mahomes does with his eyes on this play.

Remember the go route? He used it to his advantage by keeping the safety pedaling and away from the dig route that was over the middle. Then Mahomes anticipates the WR running the dig will get open, as he readies his release as the WR has just broken out of his route.

It’s flashes like this, whether by design or by Mahomes savvy QB mind, that show that he can manipulate a safety away from the play and throw with anticipation like the best of them.

The reason I point this out is because there are so many Quarterbacks who come out of college and are so behind on the mental side of QB play, because of that, the game just takes too long to slow down for them. Right here Mahomes is showing that game isn’t too big for him and that he understands that his eyes can be used to his advantage.

Positives: Showing control

This is an area I want every QB to show, regardless of the system. So much of being a quarterback is about showing control of the offense and being able to make changes at the line of scrimmage.

It’s important to understand that when a QB gets into the NFL, they will be asked to make changes at the line. This goes unnoticed a lot but it’s a huge part of being a QB, it’s the ability to silent count, see a guy in the box and realize he may be blitzing and making sure he gets picked up.

QBs coming from schemes such as this normally do not show the ability to do this and often do not get to play because of this. The fact Mahomes is at least showing that he can make changes and show control gives me much more confidence in his ability to be able to read and identify blitzes.

Positives: Improvisation

You know it’s funny, a good film watcher that I know called Mahomes a magician, and I’m inclined to agree. Some of what he can do by just improvising on a play is absurd. In fact, some of his improvisation can take so long that it is not possible to put onto one GIF.

What I like about his improvisation though is that his eyes are downfield and he’s very aware of what’s going on around him.

Mahomes gets flushed out of the pocket by interior pressure. He scrambles to his left trying to find someone open. He sees the defenders and a receiver in the area. He ends up drawing 3 defenders after him and the WR slips open because of it. Mahomes saw it and he gets to his WR for a first down.

Mahomes showed that when the rush gets to him he can scramble out of the pocket, keep his eyes downfield, find the open receiver and throw effectively on the run.

Mahomes doesn’t always improvise just by scrambling outside of the pocket though.

This play involved two pumps fakes. The first I believe was part of the play and the second was to get the unblocked defender to hesitate. Mahomes is able to allude the defender by side stepping him and he’s able to get throw off while throwing off his back foot.

It’s unclear whether that was the intended receiver who caught it, all I know is that he put in a spot where his guy could get it and it was a play made because of Mahomes ability to improvise when the play breaks down.

This ability is rare but it can also be double edged sword.

Negatives: Forcing the issue

This is the inner young Brett Farve in him, something that will make you want to tear your hair out when it happens. Some players just have a style to them that it can be difficult to coach it out of them.

Plays like this in particular just leave you with one word, why?

In what world is this a good decision? I get you’re improvising on the play, you’re trying to make something happen but why in the world would you force that.

Then there is this throw.

First, he clearly sees the underneath defender because why else would he have thought of lobbing it up trying to split it in between two defenders? It’s throws like this that are just unconventional and don’t make sense, he’s trying to force something that just isn’t there.

This is just something that’s a part of his game and if a team is thinking about drafting him, they better have their Mike Holmgren that won’t give up on him too soon. Remember how frustrating Farve was before he was an MVP? Holmgren came very close to benching him because of the absolute head scratching decisions but ended up sticking with him.

That’s the the kind of coach Mahomes will need to be successful. Which brings me to my next point.

Negatives: Atrocious footwork

Yes, atrocious, I’m not sugar coating this. You’d be amazed with how bad his footwork and mechanics can be.

I mean watch this.

Not only is he not properly stepping into this throw, his feet are right beside each other which doesn’t make sense. Not to mention that he doesn’t properly distribute his weight trough the throw.

It still works though.

Here is yet another example of just absolutely atrocious footwork.

Why? Why would you not only throw off your back foot, but why in the world did he step his foot back instead of stepping into the throw?

This doesn’t make sense. Not to mention the throw was nowhere close to his intended target.

This is something he’s either going to fix on his own or he’s going to continue to play with bad mechanics, which is possible with his level of talent and there are plenty of QBs I’ve seen get away playing with bad mechanics.

Matthew Stafford early in his career is one that comes to mind.

Didn’t that look familiar?

Stafford of course revamped his mechanics and footwork which allowed him to become a more consistent passer, allowing him complete a higher percentage of his passes (that’s not the entire reason but it is part of it).

Cam Newton is another QB who gets away with bad mechanics and while he is an exciting and fun player, he’s not an efficient player. The guy can flat out play though, and is able to throw off platform better than a lot of QBs and that isn’t something you can teach.

Conclusion

Whether you think he’s the best QB in this class, or thinking he shouldn’t even go in the top 3 rounds, Mahomes is talented. He’s a polarizing prospect that will generate both positive and downright negative reviews.

In this writer’s opinion, I believe he is the best QB in this class. He’s not just a great arm, he has absolute flashes of being able to not just control an offense, but be able to manipulate defenders, improvise when the play is breaking down, make extremely accurate off platform throws and thread the needle on tight windowed throws.

People will be quick to point out the atrocious footwork and the questionable throws that make him look like a young Brett Farve (not a compliment), but my argument to this is he’s not broken. Mahomes isn’t dependent on great footwork and mechanics to be able to throw accurately, something that isn’t learned. A QB can learn to step into his throw and to not cross his front foot on his drop back.

You can’t teach what Mahomes has and if all I had to deal with some forced throws early in his career, I’ll take him over a lot of QBs any day.

NFL Comparison: Matthew Stafford