Pat Mahomes has had a wild ride as a quarterback. Going from the leader of a flawed Texas Tech team, he was drafted early on by the Kansas City Chiefs. Now Mahomes has been deemed the chosen one for a Chiefs team that has cleared out all of its other options at the quarterback position. So can Mahomes represent the Big 12 as a starting quarterback in the NFL, or will he become another disappointing starter in the pros from the conference?
Historically, quarterbacks from the Big 12 have had a hard time in the NFL, even if they have had a great collegiate career. In the recent era of league history, quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden have been more the exception than the rule. Of course, injuries have played something of a role in this situation, as the Big 12 has struggled to churn out NFL talent while quarterbacks like Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III have been hurt throughout their careers.
A huge reason for that problem is the fact that the Big 12 doesn’t play defenses that resemble what teams play in the NFL. Spread offenses have led to defenses that simply hope to run with fast-paced offenses, rather than pro-style defenses that focus on getting pressure on the quarterback. When Big 12 quarterbacks get to the pros, they have had trouble handling great pass rushes as a result.
Mahomes, fortunately, has some great tools to help mitigate those concerns. He is a great runner, which should get him out of trouble in the event that he faces pressure from the pass rushes in the AFC West. With the Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers all boasting strong pass rushes, that is going to be a huge asset for both Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Then there is Mahomes’ arm, which is a gigantic upgrade over what the Chiefs used to have at quarterback. Alex Smith was accurate and a good game manager, but lacked the arm talent to push the ball down the field. With Tyreek Hill able to stretch the field, switching to Mahomes can create some serious advantages for the Chiefs.
Kansas City will go into this season as an underdog in the division, with NFL betting on the division winners favoring the Los Angeles Chargers instead. The continuity in the Chargers roster makes that an understandable decision, but the Chiefs have a lot of pieces that could make them contenders to get back into the playoffs next season.
Outside of Mahomes, though, the Chiefs have a concern in the form of their defense. Losing Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams, and not doing much to replace him, may take a bigger toll on the team than starting Mahomes and getting rid of Smith. In a division that is trending in the direction of defensive teams, losing some talent on the defensive side of the ball can prove costly.
For Big 12 fans, hoping that Pat Mahomes can become the great professional quarterback that the conference has been hoping to produce is inevitable. Whether or not he can deliver at a high level, on the other hand, remains to be seen.