- Patrick Mahomes exploded in 2018, his first year as a starter, throwing 50 touchdowns to become the MVP favourite.
- Mahomes was a high school baseball and football star and nearly chose baseball, with an offer to turn pro.
- Mahomes instead chose football, became a college star, rose up NFL draft boards, and broke out this year to become the most exciting player in football.
Patrick Mahomes was a revelation in 2018.
The 23-year-old Kansas City Chiefs quarterback was something of an unknown coming into his first season as a starter, but quickly announced himself one of the future stars of the NFL.
Mahomes’ journey mirrors Stephen Curry’s in the NBA – Mahomes was the son of a major league pitcher and grew up with unbelievable arm talent. After an offer to play pro baseball, Mahomes chose football, rose to college stardom, climbed up draft boards, and got taken in the first round of the 2017 draft by the Chiefs.
In his first season as a starter, Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards with 50 touchdowns, leading the NFL. He’s the favourite for MVP and has produced more jaw-dropping highlights than any other player in the league. He’s a must-watch player who’s only just getting started.
Here’s how Mahomes went from a possible baseball star to the most exciting player in the NFL:
Mahomes seems to have been born with a good arm. Mahomes’ father, Pat, was a major league pitcher, playing for six different teams.
Mahomes grew up in Texas with his mother (his parents split when he was six). He was a multi-sport athlete but excelled at baseball.
According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, Mahomes was so good at an early age that he was traded – in tee-ball! He was moved up to play pitch-coach because he was so advanced.
Mahomes quickly outgrew the typical venues for kids to play sports.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin Clark, Mahomes’ arm became too strong for backyard catches with his dad. By the time he was 10, he could throw from home plate over the center field wall on a baseball field, a distance estimated to be 200-220 feet.
Mahomes was a football and baseball star in high school, though he considered quitting football to focus on baseball.
According to Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star, Mahomes thought his future was in baseball and was afraid of jeopardizing his career with a football injury. His mum convinced him to stick with it, however, because Mahomes liked football more.
He eventually won a competition for the starting quarterback job in high school over his good friend. He wowed teammates and coaches right away with his arm and improvisation.
Despite a 50-touchdown season his senior year, Mahomes was lightly scouted in football because of his raw talents, late start, and lack of participation in football camps.
He told Wickersham that he never really got his name out on the football circuit.
Still, he turned down the chance to go play baseball. Mahomes told Mellinger that he told teams he wanted a $US2.5 million bonus to play baseball, a number he made up to dissuade teams. He still was drafted in the 37th round by the Detroit Tigers.
Mahomes ended up at Texas Tech and got some luck his freshman year when starting quarterback Davis Webb got injured. Mahomes had 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions as a freshman.
He broke out the following season, throwing for over 4,000 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. He continued to improve his junior year, throwing over 5,000 yards with 41 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He set the NCAA record with 819 total yards of offence in a loss to Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma.
When Mahomes declared for the NFL draft after his junior year, he was projected as a mid-round pick.
However, his draft stock grew throughout the process, as he was eventually considered a second- or first-round pick.
The Chiefs were enamoured with Mahomes, with Mike Veach, the Chiefs’ co-director of player personnel, forming a tight bond with Mahomes’ agent before the draft. Veach kept daily tabs on Mahomes, gauging his market and figuring out ways to get Mahomes.
Source: Yahoo’s Terez Paylor
On draft night, the Chiefs traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick to move up in the draft and take Mahomes.
Mahomes didn’t show his incredible potential in his rookie year — because he didn’t play!
Mahones was firmly behind veteran quarterback Alex Smith (who had one of his best seasons in 2017), playing just the final game of the regular season with the Chiefs’ playoff spot already locked up.
But behind the scenes, Mahomes was making an impression on his teammates.
Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka told Clark:
“There were a couple of throws early on in his rookie year. There was one where he was staring at the sideline, and he just flicked it right over Justin Houston’s head. That was the big one. That was the one where other coaches started noticing. I was working with him, and [former Chiefs OC and current Bears coach Matt Nagy] and some of the other coaches had seen it. But once he started to do that everyone said, ‘Oh, he’s really doing this.'”
In the offseason, the Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Redskins, ushering in the Mahomes era.
Mahomes impressed in training camp, but there were concerns about the high number of interceptions he was throwing. Perhaps an up-and-down rookie year was in the cards.
That perception changed almost immediately once the regular season began.
In Mahomes’ first three games, he threw for nearly 900 yards, with 13 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and a 137 passer rating, while leading the Chiefs to a 3-0 record. They began the season 9-1, with Mahomes throwing for 31 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions.
In the process, Mahomes produced some jaw-dropping highlights.
Those throws may look wild, maybe even lucky, but they’re not.
Mahomes told Clark that he practices every throw he makes – that includes the side arms, lefty throws, jumping throws, etc.
“I know there’s a chance I could make those throws in a game,” he said. “You want to practice this stuff. You don’t want the first time you do it to be in a game.”
His arm also became the subject of fascination during the season.
According to Clark, Mahomes’ baseball training seems to have helped him become a different type of thrower than most other quarterbacks, from the way he throws to the trajectory of his arm and ball.
Mahomes warms up with the long toss, like baseball players. During warmups, you might casually see him throw 90-yard passes.
The Chiefs finished the season 12-4, 1st in the AFC, while Mahomes threw for over 5,000 yards, with 50 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, becoming the favourite to win MVP.
After helping the Chiefs beat the Colts in the divisional round, they face the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
Some think the game could symbolise a passing-of-the-torch, with Mahomes, a 23-year-old MVP candidate, potentially knocking off Tom Brady, the 41-year-old legend.
No matter the outcome, it’s clear Mahomes has a bright future in the league and is soon to be one of the most popular faces in American sports.
Now, learn about Sean McVay, the coach who’s changing the NFL…
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