2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to examine as many prospects as possible and showcase both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#5 Patrick Mahomes II / QB / Texas Tech: 6’3” 220lbs

The Good:

– Extremely talented arm, effortlessly throws 60+ yards and is accurate from a variety of arm angles and body positions
– Excellent escapability and scrambling; extends plays while his receivers work to get open
– Keeps eyes downfield throughout the play
– Good accuracy when throwing on the run
– Composure: very relaxed playing style, regardless of the pass rush or game situation
– Confidence: exudes leadership and poise, regardless of the score or game situation

The Bad:

– Pro-Readiness: played in an Air-Raid offense that was primarily based on pre-snap match-ups, rather than sophisticated post-snap reads/progressions.
– Poor Mechanics: breaks almost every rule in the book
– Very rarely took snaps under-center
– Sometimes he needlessly improvised behind the LOS, rather than working through a full progression
– Occasionally held the ball too long, resulting in sacks
– Rarely had to throw in a small pocket or against heavy pressure
– Questionable decision making at times and would often just heave the ball up and hope his receiver would make a play


– Career Passing: 29 Starts (13 wins, 16 losses), 63.5% completion rate, 11,252 yards (388.0 avg.), 93 TD 29 INT.
– Career Rushing: 308 carries, 845 yards, 22 TD
– Threw for 734 yards on 88 attempts for 5 TD and 1 INT against Oklahoma in 2016
– Led the NCAA with 5,052 passing yards in 2016 and was tied for third in touchdown passes with 41.
– In each of his three seasons, Mahomes improved in completions, yards, completion rate, touchdowns, interceptions, and passer rating.

Film Breakdown:

– Watching Patrick Mahomes is like watching a video game come to life. He can easily bomb it from 60+ yards, he has electrifying scrambles behind the line of scrimmage, and his swagger pops on film. While there is some uncertainty regarding how his style of play will translate to the NFL, I think that he may be the most naturally talented and high-upside prospect in this year’s draft.

Starting with the negatives, the central concern about Mahomes is his pro-readiness. Historically, quarterbacks coming from Air-Raid offenses have been unprepared for the complexities of the professional game and, as a result, have almost universally failed out of the league; (SBNation.com compiled a list of all the Air-Raid QBs to play in the NFL since 1997 and it is littered with infamous draft busts). Specifically regarding Mahomes, he often faced only a minimal pass-rush and his offensive system rarely required him to anticipate throws or manipulate the defenses with his eyes or body language. Instead, because Texas Tech was so good at creating mismatches all over the field, he benefited from clear pre-snap reads and wide-open receivers downfield. Obviously, it is much easier to be an accurate and productive passer under these circumstances.

The efficiency of the Red Raiders’ offense should not imply that it ran itself. Mahomes still deserves credit for consistently recognizing pre-snap mismatches and getting the ball to his playmakers. However, the main point is that his statistical production is not necessarily indicative of his true ability or of how well he understands defensive schemes. For example, because the offense was heavily predicated on creating favorable numerical advantages downfield, Mahomes could cut his progressions short and freelance behind the LOS while his receivers found the soft spots in defense. Although this strategy was highly entertaining and successful in college, it is unlikely to be repeatable in the NFL. To be fair; however, I think that the lack of pro-readiness is a problem that most rookie quarterbacks will encounter in some capacity, especially with the prevalence of the spread offense in modern college football.

Now getting to the film analysis, another possible issue with Mahomes’ game is that he can be a risky passer at times. Although he was statistically safe with the football (he had only 10 INTs on nearly 600 attempts in 2016), his gunslinger mentality and confidence in his arm would occasionally cause him to make poor decisions and throw very dangerous passes. For example, in this first play against West Virginia, he attempts a blind jump-throw into QUADRUPLE coverage from the far sideline to the opposite hash. To say that he was lucky not to have this pass intercepted is an understatement:

On the positive side, Mahomes’ best attribute is his supremely talented arm. He makes throws that very few quarterbacks in history have been able to make and he does so effortlessly. While he does have some obvious mechanical problems and his throwing motion is very inconsistent, these flaws rarely affected his accuracy, ball placement, or throwing power. It was actually quite shocking how precise his passes could be, despite breaking almost every fundamental technique. For example, check out this incredible throw on the run against Louisiana Tech. Mahomes is rolling to his left, his shoulders are not aimed downfield, and he doesn’t set his feet. Yet somehow, amazingly, he accurately flicks the ball 50+ yards in the air to his receiver in the end zone:

In this next clip against Oklahoma, Mahomes showcases his ability to pass effectively despite using challenging arm angles. Here he is able to throw a touchdown to his open-side, without setting his feet or fully squaring his shoulders, and while being flushed forward in the pocket. This is a subtle, yet difficult, maneuver that he makes look routine:

Here against West Virginia, Mahomes unloads a 60+ yarder with only a quick reset of his feet. No further explanation is required:

This final play illustrates some of the good and bad aspects of Mahomes game. As for the good: he is very calm despite an unblocked rusher, he showcases his excellent escapability by evading the pressure, he keeps his eyes downfield throughout his scramble, and he (again) demonstrates his talented arm by zipping an accurate pass to his receiver who is moving in the opposite direction. As for the bad: Mahomes is slow to snap his head towards the field following his play-fake, his ball security is very lax while he is scrambling (only one hand on the ball), and he decides to throw back across his body and across the middle of the field. In the end; however, the good outweighs the bad and he engineers another explosive play for Texas Tech:

– Overall, Patrick Mahomes is a very intriguing prospect, given his elite physical abilities and athleticism. As I said in the introduction, I think that he may be the most naturally talented quarterback in this year’s draft with arguably the highest NFL-ceiling. However, his lack of experience with pro-style concepts and the negative tendencies that accompany his gunslinger style are legitimate red flags. Consequently, there is very high variance in how his professional career could pan out. Having said all this, if the Steelers feel compelled to draft a QB, I think that Mahomes is the guy to target. He clearly requires several years to learn and adapt to the professional game and watching a player like Ben Roethlisberger, who has a similar playing style, could be very beneficial for his growth. This is not to say that the Steelers should or will take him; only that IF he is available in the right round, and IF they feel that QB is a position that must be addressed immediately, then Mahomes would be my recommendation.

Projection: Day 2

Games Watched: at Arizona State, vs Louisiana Tech, vs Kansas, vs West Virginia, vs Oklahoma, vs Baylor

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl Lawson

About the Author

Sean McKaveney
Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.
  • WreckIess

    One of my favorite QBs. The guy has superstar potential. If he can get behind a line that can protect him (which we have) and can throw the ball to guys who will actually catch it(which our guys do) he will be a monster. Holding the ball is an issue for him, but he does very often make a huge play out of those situations and if you look at the scores of a lot of those games you see that he kind of had to if he wanted to give them any shot at winning.

  • falconsaftey43

    Agree strongly with your report. very well done. I’ll also note that I’ve noticed him make multiple audibles in game at the LOS and have seen him go through some progressions and look off defenders, all good elements I wasn’t expecting given the offensive system. I’d be ok with the pick at 30. I’m actually kind of leaning towards this route, because I don’t see a big difference in the quality of OLB that might be there at 30 as opposed to 62.

  • T3xassteelers

    Eyyy my guy!!! I agree with almost everything you said. Only thing I’d differ on was the rarely having to throw against pressure. He was THE most pressured QB in all college football, that line was going to get him killed which is why he had to improve so much lol. Seen all his games in person (except vs ISU last year) and he’s a treat to watch. Definitely not your typical QB from Tech. Very very smart and has HOF potential (just needs to be sat down for a year and taught proper mechanics). I don’t know why Goff went #1 and nobody talked about the Air Raid being a problem… Why should Pat be penalized but not Goff?

    To his bio you can add that his dad played pro baseball for 10 years for the Twins! He also just started playing QB his junior year of HS so he’s still new to the position. Bunch of untapped potential.

  • T3xassteelers

    Yes, one of his underrated values is his brains. Most TTU QBs didn’t make the audibles that he had to. He was a treat to watch in person.

  • T3xassteelers

    YES! Tech’s line was legit the worst in the nation. He was running for his life every play and the fact he did some of the things he did.. Whew lol. Draft him, sit him behind Ben for 1-2 years and we’re set for the next decade +. I promise you, this is a guy that everyone is going to be kicking themselves for not drafting (especially since he’s not projected to be a top 5 pick).

  • Ike Evans

    Im buying in with this kid

  • If he actually makes it to 30, they really have to think about taking him. I see the hype everyone has been talking about with him. Got me so excited I’m about to go watch full games on him. I think I’ve officially found my draft crush. I would’ve never thought a QB in this draft would be such an exciting prospect. Draft him, groom him behind Ben until he retires. Keep Mettenberger as 3rd string. I’m sold where do we sign up?

  • agree with your take on the OLBs in this class. Especially if they want to double dip with a day two guy, and then mid to late rounder.

  • On a side note. I think Hue Jackson could work magic with this kid

  • falconsaftey43

    If he’s there at 30, I think they should take him. Ben is near the end (2-3 years?). It gives you enough time to groom him and possible trade Ben with a year left, or to find out that you missed on Mahomes and you need to try again (before having to start the kid for 3 years going 5-11).

  • popsiclesticks

    Not worried about the mechanics – if you throw accurately with weird mechanics (Phil Rivers), odd footwork (Peyton Manning), and ridiculous arm angles (Aaron Rodgers), more power to you.

    The decision making, however, is concerning. I’m not that familiar with college QB traits – how often do these guys clean that up in the pros? I guess Jameis Winston is an example of a guy with an NFL arm but questionable decision making getting on the path towards franchise QB status, but he was by all means a football savant who ran a complex, NFL type offense and progressed through his reads.

    I’m definitely intrigued by this guy, though, even if he is a Day 1 pick. So many of those highlights are only things that Aaron Rodgers can do.

  • popsiclesticks

    And really, is that all that different from Ben? A guy who will turn the ball over a time or two when other QBs would just take a sack or throw it away, but at the same time he’ll make a ton of big plays no other QBs make.

  • popsiclesticks

    I’m starting to get in line with this. If Ben wants to talk about retirement, then I’d have to consider taking Mahomes instead of hoping I bottom out in a Luck year and not a Goff year.

  • falconsaftey43

    Really depends on the guy. I think a certain amount of it will never go away. It’s the “gunslinger” mentality. Ben has it, Favre had it, Wentz has it. There are just some guys that will not throw it away, they want to make a play. There is good and bad with that.

  • WreckIess

    Not too different at all. As a matter of fact, that’s probably one of the better player comparisons for him. Both are big bodied gun slingers that can play back yard ball. If there’s anyone for him to learn behind it’s Big Ben.

  • falconsaftey43

    Bit of Johnny Manziel in there too (with more physical talent and way more common sense off field).

  • steelburg

    You all can keep this guy. He does have some tools but there are way to many issues with his mechanics. He would need to be rebuilt just like the Packers did with Roger’s or he would need to go to someone who knows how to really develop a young QB. We don’t have the QB coach or the the offensive coordinator to fix this guy IMO, and 4 years behind Ben alone won’t do it especially since this guy has no pro style experience.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’m not actually sure you need to fix his mechanics. They rarely cause him problems with accuracy or power. He’d probably improve with mechanics work, but I don’t think they are holding him back at all.

  • WreckIess

    I see that too. When he gets moving he plays a lot like Manziel did. Somewhat reckless, but very effective.

  • T3xassteelers

    Yup, I’ve heard Big Ben, Favre, Arod, Stafford.. but with Manziels escape ability (only positive from him…) Idk about you but those are pretty good guys to be compared to. He can’t be put into a position where he’s going to start day 1. He needs to sit a season.

  • T3xassteelers

    We don’t need him to come in and start right away. Why not take a chance on a guy with HOF type potential if we let him sit a few years (like you said with Rodgers)? The dude is the truth

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Steelburg –

    I could make a whole list of successful QB’s with bad mechanics (starting with Phillip Rivers) but let’s skip that for right now, and let me ask you this one simple question…

    How does a guy with such terrible mechanics throw for 5000+ yards, with a 66% comp rate, 41 TD’s / 10 INT’s, his senior year?

  • Jon Crissinger

    I know a lot of Texans fans that want him in round one and that’s some of the talk that’s been going around here in Texas.

  • falconsaftey43

    He’s not wrong about the mechanics. they are terrible. BUT he doesn’t seem to be held back by them at all.

  • WreckIess

    Agreed. That’s why I think it’s a perfect situation for everyone involved.

  • steelburg

    What QB plays the majority of the time with bad mechanics and is successful at doing so? He is Jay Cutler 2.0 IMO. If you think about the years when Cutler was most successful it was playing under Adam Gase, the Shanahan’s, and a little success under Trestman. All those guys are unique offensive minds and I really don’t consider Haley to be on those guys level when it comes to molding a QB. Haley is good with veteran guys and he has shown that over the course of his career.

  • falconsaftey43

    Mechanics only matter in that you can complete passes with strength and accuracy which he shows. To me, if he works on his mechanics he’ll only get better. But the starting point isn’t a problem from either an accuracy or velocity standpoint. Now guys like Kizer I think have mechanic issues that really impact their accuracy. That’s why I don’t like Kizer. He misses throws he shouldn’t because his footwork is poor. I don’t see that with Mahomes. Not a perfect analogy, but to me it’d be like criticizing Bell for not hitting the hole quickly. No coach is going to teach what he does, but it works for him.

  • steelburg

    We don’t have the offensive staff to get him ready IMO. Haley is more suited to develop a QB that has pro style offensive experience not this guy. He would be a guaranteed bust If we drafted him IMO.

  • steelburg

    Really? Stats is your argument? Ok here is one for you Brandon Doughty 5,055 yards, 48tds and 9ints 71.9% comp rate in 2015. This guy was a 7th round pick buddy, I guess by your standard he should have went number 1 overall right?

  • steelburg

    Goff has looked flat out horrible so I wouldn’t use him as a reason for why Pat should get a fair shake and why teams should over look the offense he came out of. If anything the way Goff has looked will make teams shy away from drafting another QB from that type of system so high. Looking back on that Goff pick a year later it definitely looks like they picked the wrong QB.

  • NinjaMountie

    Yeah….I think they are both right. That being said, I’ve always felt that they sometimes worry about mechanics too much. As long as the accuracy is there, and the ability to make the throw, then it’s not such a worry.
    Some of it will be corrected without much change. I’m more concerned about the lack of time under center. Still, all in all, I think he’s pretty much like any Baylor QB or Art Bryles type QB.

  • NinjaMountie

    Today…Rivers, as stated above. Stafford isn’t perfect. Always thought Romo was a bit weird. Days gone by…Kosar, Jeff George had a decent stay in the NFL, Theisman was strange. Just those off the top of my head.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Yeah, playing in the Sun Belt. Ha. Why not pick some stats from the Ivy League while you’re at it? The BIG 12 is a solid conference with solid competition. But you’re missing the point…

    The point you SHOULD be making against Mahomes is whether or not he can adapt to an NFL system. That is a valid argument. And that is the only reason he might be available at 1.30 instead of being gone in the first 10 picks.

    The arm mechanics thing is a weak argument (in my opinion) because the stats show he IS getting the ball where it’s supposed to go consistently. His odd mechanics work for him just like Phillip Rivers’ odd mechanics work for him.

  • Spencer Krick

    This guy is gonna be fun to watch, wherever he ends up.

  • T3xassteelers

    Not what I’m arguing. I’m arguing why Goff gets a pass but Pat doesn’t. Goff is still young and he’s in a horrible situation (Line is HORRIBLE). Pat grades much better than Goff anyways.

  • steelburg

    What conference did Carson Wentz come from? NFL talent can be found anywhere so that doesn’t matter at all. When I say mechanics I’m not talking about his throwing motion I’m talking about his foot work. Rivers has a funky throwing motion but the majority of the time he has good food work and the same goes for all the QB’S that have good success in the NFL. Like I said I see this guy as Jay Cutler 2.0.

  • Tyler Guilford

    I’d think about it in the second but I don’t think the steelers are in a postition to take a QB in round one. We’re one or two players away from legitimately contending for another super bowl and I think that has to be the number 1 priority. I think we could be looking at getting a true, high level pass rusher in the first round this year which we need more than anything and I’m just not willing to pass up on that for a late 1st round project QB in an already weak QB class. I see the merit of it but to me its just not worth it.

    Tl;dr – maybe in the second, not in the first

  • steelburg

    How does he grade out better? Where did you get that from? Goff was graded out as a 6.51 and Pat grades out at a 5.9. according to the NFL site.

  • Rocksolid20

    He will be there at 30 and much like that other Texas city , El Paso !

  • Rocksolid20

    Why could no one fix Tebows mechanics ?!

  • Rocksolid20

    Can you say Tebow ?

  • Rocksolid20

    Finally , someone with good since .

  • popsiclesticks

    Tebow needed his fixed because he threw bounce passes. This guy apparently does not. There’s a difference.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    You guys must really be reading my mind. If the Steelers are looking for depth and Bens replacement this guy has the potential and like mentioned above he does have some Big Ben type ways about him. I like him if available in the 2nd but I bet there is a good chance he goes in the first instead of deadbeat Kizer.

  • Steve

    When watching Mahomes was almost like watch Rivers, same style, same speed.

  • Wil Masisak

    “– Rarely had to throw in a small pocket or against heavy pressure
    – Questionable decision making at times and would often just heave the ball up and hope his receiver would make a play”

    I don’t know if I can agree with either. Some of those throws are super tight windows- the 1st play slant between two defenders, several of the plays on the run– tight window and ridiculously accurate throw… and he makes it look easy. I can’t think of too many situations where he just threw it up, with the exception of a few plays where the situation called for it. As for the Air Raid thing, I think most of those QBs failed because they were all about throwing to the U: sidelines and short near the LOS. Those reads are easier and the throws carry less risk. That style of play isn’t going to make a bad team good or a good team great– you’re basically just treading water.

  • Wil Masisak

    It’s the comparison Chris Simms made on Bleacher Report’s breakdown video. I think it’s a pretty good comp– maybe some Matthew Stafford in there.

  • Michael Dobson

    I’d pick him at 30 (if Hooker and Adams are gone) to lock in being competitive for the next decade a la Packers with Rodgers at 24. You’ll have a better back-up now, inevitably start a few games, and undergo a very smooth transition. Besides, I think the biggest thing holding back the Steelers is just game-planning. Besides, you could easily get quality defensive players in this draft. The CB, S, and TE classes are deep. Can easily fill needs later in the draft.

  • MikeC4

    There are red flags all over the BAD list of points. Not seeing franchise QB here. If he fell to the 3rd round, sure. But any of the teams who already have an established franchise QB taking him in the first are being stupid.

    The QB needy teams want to take a chance on him, coach him up yourselves and go for it. But the teams with a franchise QB like the Steelers are in the hunt for rings.

    Why waste a high draft pick on an experiment? Starting QBs don’t mentor youngsters. That’s the weirdest concept I keep hearing from fans and some in the media. What is the NFL, Romper Room?

  • steelersfan

    Not sure how this comment didn’t get heat at the time it was made. If Ben gets traded that would possibly be the dumbest thing the Steelers have done in the history of the franchise. The kids first year starting no matter when he ends up playing isn’t going to result in a super bowl . That’s a fact. So you trade Ben and give the guy experience you can potentially channel into being your franchise starter. You have to realize one year right now though is ridiculously important. I doubt we will have Bryant three years from now and AB will be in his thirties. We are in a sweet spot time period with our offensive line, where most of them are in their primes. Also there is nothing to say Ben doesn’t have 3-5 years left…it’s as much of a guess (honestly less of reach to me) as whether this kid will be a good player at the next level. Kiss any chance of winning a super bowl with the players we have away if that happens. We are in Win Now mode. Not looking ahead to Bens heir….yet.

  • steelersfan

    You are jump starting bottoming out by selecting a QB in the first round. Can’t be inactive in free agency and then waste a first round pick on a developmental guy who won’t be ready for a couple years at least. You have a small window, you were 2 games away from winning it all and the teams you have been competing with have gotten better in the offseason. Have to find a guy who can contribute with the players we have now. I would have been more open to this pick if we had been more active in March.

  • popsiclesticks

    You’d only jump start bottoming out if he’s not good. If you couldn’t afford to take a guy like this, then you couldn’t afford to miss on Jarvis Jones. Yet they did and it didn’t sink the team.

    If I thought Mahomes was going to be a great QB, and from my limited viewing I think he’ll at least be a really good one, then I’d love a chance to avoid bottoming another Kent Graham era. I’m not saying you’re overall point is wrong, but I think you are really overstating the effect of one first round pick.

  • popsiclesticks

    I liked it for Mahomes – didn’t even notice the Ben being traded part. Ben is borderline untradable and you ride him till he’s not good anymore, certainly.

  • steelersfan

    I understand your point and the desire to preemptively avoid a dark age at the QB position. My logic is that at this specific time, I actually do feel we are a couple upgrades away on defense from winning a championship. Actually in my opinion the Jarvis Jones miss had pretty large repercussions. We are still trying to find an OLB and have had to resort to using a 39 year old (though a damn good one) to get occasional pressure on QBs. Who are we to say that another player wouldn’t have been the difference. That’s how close we are. So when you refuse to be active in getting a quality player or two in free agency who can make an impact immediately because you want to build through the draft you can’t afford to make a selection like this when other teams around you are upgrading. This month had been very tough from a fan perspective ….but March usually is if your a Steelers fan and I generally trust Colberts strategy to build from within. If I’m going to keep trusting in it, I have to believe for my own sanity that yeah we are an impact first round pick away from taking the next step and that Colbert understands that too. Because as we stand here today I don’t think we have enough on defense and drafting a developmental prospect at the quarterback position has way too high of an opportunity cost.