For my third scouting edition, I will be scouting Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II. The big bodied QB has a strong arm and a unique delivery, but the biggest thing people want to know about is if he can translate to a pro-style offense from the air-raid offense at Texas Tech.
With the NFL combine measurements in, I can now use official NFL statistics when it comes to height, weight and hand size (important for QBs to grip the ball).
Height: 6′ 2″
Arm Length: 33 1/4″
Hand size: 9 1/4 inches
Patrick “Gunslinger” Mahomes: Overview
For those who have seen the numbers that Mahomes has put up and think, “why can’t he be successful in the NFL, he threw for 730 yards in ONE game alone.” Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. For one thing, the Big 12 opponents that are in Texas Tech’s conference have horrendous defenses; ranking last with 448.3 yards allowed per game amongst power 5 conferences. Granted Texas Tech’s defense is the worst in the conference and skews that data since Mahomes can’t play against his own squad. That still doesn’t take away that the defenses he has played closely resemble dumpster fires.
The air raid offense that Texas Tech utilizes is nothing like that of an NFL offense. The first problem being that everything Texas Tech does is ran out of a no-huddle scheme. The Texas Tech coaches either give hand signals or hold up signs with different pictures and logos that describe the play, as do many college offenses. Every player then translates the signals into the play at the line of scrimmage and does it at a rapid pace to ensure the defense cannot get set and/or tire them out.
It’s going to be a learning curve for Mahomes just in that aspect. He hasn’t even practiced being in a huddle and calling plays out to the team or getting everyone set in their correct alignments. Jared Goff came from an offense in Cal and didn’t start until week 10 mainly because he wasn’t used to the type of offense that NFL teams run and couldn’t comprehend the assignments.
The second issue is that almost every single play ran out of TTU’s offense was either of the shotgun or the pistol formation.
The rare snaps that I actually see Mahomes under center were on 4th & short. Against Oklahoma, he ran the ball for a first down on a QB sneak under center. Mahomes actually had great leg drive on that play to keep his team on the field and gain 2-3 yards.
However, teams are going to look towards Mahomes’s pro day and combine drills to see how he fairs in 3-step and 5-step dropbacks. Can his footwork hold up to that of a professional, and can he drive the ball downfield using his legs and not just sitting back and playing catch and throw out of shotgun? Will he be able to sense pressure dropping back from center?
These question marks would make me worried if I scouted for an NFL franchise. But there are positives to Mahomes’s game and plays on tape that makes you think he can be a leader for any team.
What jumps off when I watch and read about Patrick Mahomes is his confidence. If it’s 3rd & 25, he’s not afraid to sling the ball 40 yards downfield after breaking off a sack and throwing it on the run to give his team a chance. The man has guts and he wants everyone to know about his confidence.
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) March 1, 2017
“I’m not a project.”
Mahomes is letting us know, along with NFL teams, he can play in a pro-style offense. Now that remains to be seen but he wouldn’t just lie about this, teams interviewed him at the NFL combine and have tested his knowledge and have loved him so far.
Asked a DPP the best interview they've had so far, "Mahomes. I love that kid."
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 3, 2017
For those who don’t know, DPP stands for Director of Player Personnel. By the title alone you can tell that they take the interview process rather seriously, one liking Mahomes a whole lot.
The Texas Tech gunslinger is one of the more interesting quarterback prospects in this year’s draft and it goes beyond just his offensive system and confidence. Let’s look at the film.
The first game I took a look at was Mahomes’s worst game of his junior season, @Iowa State in late November. It was a cold game at 38 degrees (felt like 28 degrees) and windy with speeds up to 30 mph in Aimes, Iowa. Extreme conditions sure, but great QB’s can play in any weather conditions.
Stat line: 18/36 (50% completion percentage), 219 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 99.2 passer rating (worst of season), 41.9 adjusted QBR
The main points taken away from this disastrous 66-10 loss to a 2-8 football team at the time was Mahomes’s problem with pressure resulting in negative plays, throwing off his back foot and the injury to his left arm in the 1st quarter. The play in which he hurt his non-throwing arm can be seen below.
It was a great play by the Red Raider QB, who trucks an Iowa State defender on 3rd & 6 for a first down. Even with that hit, Mahomes did not show any sign of injury until the next series. He later went to the locker room and sat out two series before coming back into the game at the beginning of the 2nd quarter.
Now whether or not this affected his play is unsure. Of course, it can make a player second guess himself when rolling out of the pocket, sensing pressure from a defender or scrambling on another run play. But to say it definitively affected Pat Mahomes in this game can only be answered by the man himself.
Mahomes was very spotty in this game. This clip is an easy out route that Mahomes just flat out misses with good protection.
Mahomes wasn’t very effective vs. pressure in this game as it resulted in his two interceptions and could have cost him more. On this incompletion (seen below), Mahomes just floats the pass up hoping for a miracle from his receiver. Instead, it’s a dropped interception.
In the next gif (below), Mahomes sees an unblocked defender come off his right side. Deciding that the best thing to do was force a pass over the middle of the field completely backfires on him. The result is Iowa State defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya taking the football 48 yards the other way for a 42-3 lead against the Red Raiders.
Not all of Mahomes’s game tape is this bad. I’m only pointing out this showing because it was his worst of the year. Although it was a terrible performance, he followed it up with a great showing against Baylor the next week, going 30/46 (65.2%) for 586 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs and a passer rating of 215.3.
The Mahomes arm that many were accustomed to seeing and associating him as a 1st round pick for is evident against Oklahoma. Going 52/88 (59.1%) for 734 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 12 carries for 85 yards, 2 rushing TDs and a passer rating of 145.6.
The two numbers to highlight are 734 yards (which only ties the record for most in a game) and 88 passing attempts. That is a lot of yards but don’t let it fool you. Mahomes threw the ball more this game than some starting pitchers in the MLB do in a week and had to since his defense couldn’t stop the OU offense lead by Baker Mayfield, Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon and others. Many of Mahomes passes were big YAC (yards after catch) plays off of screens or quick passes. Don’t look at these stats and think Mahomes is going to go #1 overall because he set some records in college, there’s more to it.
His arm strength and ability to make plays were outstanding nonetheless on this Saturday night in October, especially on 3rd down. I was watching this game and thinking how much of a beast Mahomes proved to be on 3rd down conversions. Flashbacks of Big Ben rang through my head as I saw him break tackles in the pocket and find a receiver when many other QBs would go down like a load of bricks.
To find someone open and actually complete this pass on 3rd and 12 just represents the determination you get with Pat Mahomes. He doesn’t want to throw the ball away, he wants the first down and will go to extreme lengths to do so.
His 3rd down work can also be seen on this touch pass (below) early in the first quarter. He delivers this lob pass to the sideline trusting his arm in that the ball will fly right over the defender but not too far to where the receiver couldn’t catch it.
His third-down magic doesn’t stop there. On 3rd and 20, Mahomes sees the pocket collapse and steps up to avoid the sack. While stepping forward he delivers a strike to an open Red Raider for the first down 20 plus yards down the field.
What’s most impressive to me on this particular play is the angle and footwork of Mahomes as he throws this ball. Running full speed, up right to the line of scrimmage, and throwing a bullet like he’s a shortstop to catch the runner at first. Mahomes makes throws like these a lot, more than any QB I’ve watched in a while.
Where a lot of plays in the NFL are required to run off play action, Mahomes can find his groove in an offense that feeds off that. The footwork, throwing angles and different deliveries that he demonstrates make him perfect for an offense that looks to run the ball a great amount and use play action to catch the defense off guard for a deep bomb. The way in which the Titans use Mariota is a perfect example of how offenses can use Mahomes, on rollouts, play action, and RPO’s (run-pass options).
His deep ball needs some work as it’s not always 100% on target. Mahomes loves to throw off his back foot a ton and can certainly trust his arm too much when doing so. However, he is always an option to hit the home run pass.
In my notes, this was written down as “absolute dime for 32 yard TD.” This pass was pretty, to say the least, and proves Mahomes can throw the deep ball when he’s on. The only thing is that he needs to be doing it on a more consistent basis and focusing on throwing less off his back foot.
Against the best defense in the Big 12, Kansas State, Mahomes displayed his baller playstyle further. Completing 72.6% of his passes against the Wildcats, Mahomes not only exhibited his accuracy but also his running ability finding the end zone three times on the ground.
One of the great highlight reel runs you’ll see was early in the 2nd quarter against KSU. With the blitz coming heavy from two middle linebackers, Mahomes has to act fast on 3 & 5 to avoid taking a sack and killing the drive. With swift footwork, he escapes the pocket and jukes out potential first round pick Jordan Willis and proceeds to the goal line for six.
Mahomes completes a beautiful deep ball here to keep the drive alive on 3rd &11. Great sideline placement on this pass helps keep the Wildcat defender at bay so only his fellow Red Raider teammate can catch it.
One of the strongest portions of Mahomes’s game is his ball velocity which is the strongest in this QB class. The stronger the arm, the easier it will be to fit the ball into tight windows at the next level. On this completion below, he rockets the ball to his receiver on the slant for a first. While it may not be in a tight window, Mahomes’s velocity is evident while watching him on tape throwing quick outs, slants, and screens.
His combine numbers also match up well in terms of ball velocity according to NFL draft scout Dane Brugler.
Ball velocity numbers (MPH) from the Combine:
60 – Mahomes
59 – Webb
56 – Kizer
55 – Trubisky, Evans
53 – Peterman, Kaaya
49 – Watson
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 10, 2017
Not only can he throw it fast he can launch the ball as well. The Texas Tech pro day was a clear indicator of Mahomes’s arm strength as he launched the football almost the length of the field in Lubbock, Texas.
— NFL (@NFL) April 3, 2017
Mahomes has an absolute cannon for an arm, and it’s the main reason so many teams and scouts are looking at him to be a first-round pick come April 27th. The Jets, Steelers, Saints, Bills and as high as 14 other teams held private workouts or official visits with Mahomes. More than half of the NFL franchises are intrigued about him enough to ask for a closer look.
With all that being said, Pat Mahomes is one of my favorite quarterbacks in this draft class. A leader, strong-armed playmaker, that can make all different types of throws with outstanding confidence to his game. I’m taking a shot at Mahomes if I’m looking to grab a quarterback for the future, sitting behind a starter for 1-2 years, getting accustomed to an NFL offense and tweaking some of his accuracy and footwork.
If you’re a team that needs a QB now and can’t wait for an unpolished product, Mahomes is not the quarterback for your team. Teams like the 49ers and Browns might want to look in a different direction for a quicker starting option.
The end of round 1 seems like the ideal landing spot for the Red Raider. The Texans, Steelers, Saints and other teams that would be willing to trade up (Jets or Chargers) in the late 20s to early 30s could select Mahomes.
The career that Mahomes will leave behind years from now will heavily depend on his situation and team that selects him. Learning behind Big Ben or Drew Brees to take over for them in 2-3 years could mean great success for Pat Mahomes. But it could mean a tragic end if he gets thrown into the fire early in his career.