Texas Tech’s junior quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, decided to forgo his senior senior and enter the NFL Draft. Mahomes shocked the world this season when he threw for 734 yards and amassed 819 total yards of offense against Oklahoma in late October. Despite this, Mahomes’ 2016 campaign did not go as he had hoped, finishing 5-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big 12 Conference. However, the wins and losses don’t necessarily fall on the hands of the junior signal caller. The Texas Tech defense allowed an average of 41.5 points per game.
Initially looking at Patrick Mahomes, his size is impressive. Standing at 6’3″ and 229 lbs, he has the perfect build for an NFL quarterback. While taking a deeper look at his game, he possesses a very strong arm, has very good decision making skills, and his running ability is a valuable asset to any offense. On the other hand, his pocket presence and ability to remain poise when put in difficult situations are not on par with the average NFL quarterback. Mahomes’ throwing motion and accuracy are also two areas of concern for teams looking to draft a quarterback.
Decision Making: 15.308/20
Texas Tech’s offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who happens to be a former quarterback, does an excellent job calling plays to the strengths of his team. As a result, Mahomes is often executing various RPO (run-pass option) schemes, along with more complex half and full-field read schemes. The offensive coordinator understands Mahomes is very precise in making decisions, which allows for him to excel passing game. Patrick is more often than not making the right reads, and distributing the football in the correct places. As a result, he received a 15.308 grade for this category. If Mahomes was able to perform just as consistent throughout the entire duration of the game, his grade would have been higher.
Texas Tech’s offense comes out in 20 personnel for this particular RPO. Mahomes does a great job at identifying his read before the snap. On the snap of the football, Mahomes immediately finds his read, the Mike linebacker. The linebacker fills the gap biting on the run and Mahomes makes the correct read, throwing the slant where the linebacker once was.
Throw Power: 11.5/12.5
Mahomes strong arm, accompanied by his large frame, allows him to throw the ball anywhere on the football field. Mahomes made a living in college beating defenses by throwing from different angles and off his back foot. His deep ball and ability to throw 15+ yard comebacks from the opposite hash spotlight his impressive arm strength. Mahomes was given an 11.5 in the Throw Power category, which may very well be the highest in this year’s draft.
Running Ability: 3.45/5
Many people may be surprised that I include this measurement in the evaluation of a QB, but with the influx of mobile QBs and college concepts in the NFL, I believe it is important to analyze. With that said, Mahomes has a natural running ability that is clearly evident on film. While he is not the fastest athlete on the field, he is elusive and smart. Often, this allows him to extend the life of plays and find positive yardage when it is not seen. A rating of 3.45 was given to Mahomes in this category.
Mahomes does a great job feeling the pressure, stepping up in the pocket, and finding the open field. Mahomes steps up in the pocket between two defenders and makes a man miss for the 1st down.
When evaluating talent, context is very important. Scouts should take into account his defense when grading the Junior QB. Mahomes’ 5-7 record in 2016 is not a stat that scouts should use when grading him. His defense was very poor. Nine out of twelve times Mahomes and his offense scored more than 35 points. When an offense scores 35 points or more, they should be winning that game. Mahomes should absolutely be seen as a winner. In 2016, he kept his team in the game countless times. A prime example can be his efforts against Oklahoma. Mahomes threw the football 88 times with 52 completions for 734 yards. He was the teams’s leading rusher and scored a game-high 7 touchdowns. If Texas Tech’s defense was even a fraction better, Mahomes could have easily been 8-4 or 9-3. Mahomes deserves a rating of 9.111.
Improvisation is the ability to make a play when no true play exists. When everything breaks down, Mahomes is best at this. He has an uncanny ability to run around, avoid the rush, and find an open receiver deep down field when everything breaks down. It truly is impressive to watch. There’s a reason why Mahomes been called the “magician” by some. Mahomes’ ability to improvise is on full effect here. He turns what would have been a negative play into a touchdown.
Poise can simply be defined by a quarterback’s ability to perform under pressure. For NFL teams scouting Mahomes, this can be a key area of concern. He struggles against the blitz, as he tends to have happy feet in the pocket and looks to escape far too soon. This is a major default in a quarterback looking to turn to the NFL. A quarterback at the professional level must show poise and confidence against the blitz if they want to be successful. That is why Mahomes was given a total grade of 6.725 out of a possible 12.5 points.
Texas Tech is taking a shot on this play with a fake screen and go. It ends up being a perfect call for what the defense lines up in. Mahomes can see the blitz before the snap, with both safeties rolled down and the blitz demeanor from the defense. The offense is capable of blocking every person on this play. Six defender rushing and there are five lineman blocking plus the running back. Mahomes sees the blitz and does not trust his blockers. He backpedals and tries to throw the ball off his back foot, but misses his wide open receiver. If you don’t show poise or composure, your mechanics will suffer.
On this play, Mahomes is reading the left side of the football field. When none of the receivers become available, Mahomes looks to run and get out of the pocket. However, Mahomes should not be looking to run when he has a clean pocket. He should be continuing to scan the field or find the check down.
Mahomes gets “happy-feet” in the pocket and sees the leak route late, resulting in a poor throw and an incompletion.
Pocket Presence: 5.49/10
At times Patrick Mahomes looks very seasoned in the pocket. He shows the capability to step up in the pocket and deliver the football effortlessly to open wide receivers. However, consistently he struggles staying in the pocket and making the necessary movements to evade the rush. Additionally, Mahomes is often looking to escape the pocket far too soon. For these reasons, Mahomes was given a 5.49 out of 10.
As you can see on this play, the strong safety rolls down, indicating a blitz coming from the field side. Mahomes must know this and understand where he can work the pocket, if he has to.
With the blitz coming, Mahomes must slide to the left in order to make the defender change direction. After the slide, Mahomes would have stepped up and been able to see the crossing route right in his field of view.
As you can see, Mahomes did not slide in the pocket and attempted to throw the comeback route. Ultimately, it was a throw away and a missed opportunity for Texas Tech.
Throwing Motion: 6/10
A good throwing motion is short and compact with a strong follow through. Breaking down Mahomes’ throwing motion, it is longer than ideal. The most notable problem however, is his follow through. Very often his back leg does not follow follow through to complete the throw. This is a strong cause for his inaccuracy at times. Mahomes does not have the worst throwing motion, yet it is very far from the best. Thus, he received a 6 out of 10 for this category.
Mahomes off a play-action fake, never resets his feet to throw the shoot route, and does not follow through on the throw.
Mahomes received a grade of 11.343 for his passing accuracy. For every beautiful ball Mahomes throws, a not so pretty, “easy” completion is missed. As previously stated, this has a lot to do with his footwork and throwing motion. While his accuracy is not his worst attribute, it certainly isn’t his greatest either. He will need plenty of time to improve on this attribute before the NFL Combine and his pro day.
After watching plenty of game film on Patrick Mahomes, he received an overall grade of 68.928. Mahomes’ big play ability is certainly an area that all NFL teams will find most intriguing. He excelled in many areas as a quarterback, but struggled in many key areas that make an NFL quarterback great. I would not consider Mahomes a first round draft pick, as I believe there are a few better options before him. Nevertheless, if many quarterbacks are taken early in the first round, he could be selected in the middle or end of the first. I would not have a problem if the Buffalo Bills selected him with their second round draft pick.
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