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A Simple Scout’s Look at Pat Mahomes
This will be the first in a series of scouting reports done under the “Simple Scout” banner. They will be done with an eye toward those that might not understand some of the normal scouting lingo, and thus, might be more accessible for beginners. All video clips are courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.
This year’s quarterback class is one of the more interesting positional groups in this year’s NFL Draft. There are, at least at this point, no sure things, and no clear-cut number one picks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t talented guys. Pat Mahomes is one of those talented guys.
Grades on Mahomes are sure to be all over the place. His highs are tantalizingly high, though they’re often fleeting, and he offers things that no other player in this draft offers. However, he can also be maddening, with sloppy mechanics leading to awful throws. He will inevitably have some people thinking he should be the first quarterback off the board, while others insist he’s not worth more than a mid-round selection. What inspires that kind of dichotomy? A closer look is in order.
A quick peek at the stats show production, but it’s important to note that he played in an offense designed to put up big numbers, and the Big XII featured some awful defenses in 2016, skewing the numbers. This past season, Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards and 41 touchdowns. He also ran for 12 scores.
As far as his tape goes, the first thing to notice is his arm and release. Mahomes has all the requisite arm strength needed to make every throw an NFL quarterback needs to make. His quick release is also a huge plus, allowing him to get the ball out quickly in every circumstance. Here, he takes aim at his receiver going down the sideline, but with two defenders in the area, it’s a small window. Once his eyes lock onto the receiver, he quickly delivers it, and the ball gets there quickly, finding a way to its intended target.
This is a difficult throw, that many NFL quarterbacks can’t make. In this case, the receiver didn’t get his foot down, so it was incomplete, but that’s irrelevant. He makes a lot of throws like that. Here is an example of his ability to get the ball down the field. He tosses it 50 yards, right on the money to his receiver.
Another area where Mahomes excels is when he’s moving. It isn’t always strictly necessary when he does it, but it does show an ability to get the ball out if he had to due to pressure. He can throw it from many positions, directions, and arm angles. He was especially good on third down this year, and this is part of the reason for that. Here, he rolls right, keeps his eyes up, and winds up getting a completion and good yardage.
When discussing the negative aspects of Mahomes’ game, the conversation will almost certainly center around footwork. As good as his arm is, his feet are that bad at times. When he sets up properly, plants his feet and steps into his throw, he’s as good as anybody. Unfortunately, there are too many times when he fails to do that, and bad things happen. In this clip, from his own endzone, instead of stepping into his throw, he pulls his left foot back towards him, leaving his pass to float lazily into the arms of the defensive back for an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
There are far too many examples similar to this one, where he either throws it with his momentum carrying him backwards, or where he just has his feet not set under him correctly. Overall, it leads to a sense of inaccuracy. Even on short throws, like screen passes, he often throws behind his intended receiver, causing negative plays. Another issue with Mahomes is that he sometimes trusts his arm too much, and will make the occasional throw into traffic.
There is a lot to like about Mahomes. His arm talent is at an elite level, and his determination and attitude are big positives for him. He definitely has qualities that NFL teams love to have in their quarterbacks. However, he lacks polish, and will need a good coach that can clean up some footwork that is, at times, abysmal. If this happens, he could wind up the best passer to come out of this draft, and worth a top pick. If he can’t settle his mechanics, though, even a mid-round pick might be too high.