When the Chiefs made a stunning trade with the Bills to move up to number ten in 2017 NFL draft and select polarising Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes, there were few outside the organisation who genuinely liked the decision.
Mahomes, though equipped with impressive arm strength and playmaking ability, was considered raw and underprepared for life as an NFL quarterback.
Flash forward to 2018, and a year sitting and learning behind Alex Smith seems to have done the talented 22-year-old the world of good. Suddenly, giving up two first rounders to Buffalo doesn't seem so damaging to the Chiefs.
Speaking on "The Around the NFL Podcast" at the Annual League Meeting in Orlando last month, Head coach Andy Reid certainly seemed pretty pumped about Mahomes' future, and revealed the exact moment he knew the then-rookie QB was ready to be KC's full time starter.
It came in a meaningless week 17 matchup at Denver, with playoff qualification already wrapped up. Reid wanted to see how Mahomes prepared for a regular season game and worked with him all week whilst OC Matt Nagy helped prepare Alex Smith for their playoff matchup with the Steelers.
Mahomes starred, leading the Chiefs to a 27-24 win and making some highlight-reel plays with his ridiculous arm strength on full display in the process.
"I went into that game feeling like we could score anytime," Reid said. "Once I got into the game, I felt the same thing."
"[Mahomes] gave you that confidence and he made some plays. You saw him do these no-look throws that he does in practice and you go, ‘Ah. It’s practice.’ He starts doing those in the game, I said, ‘Whoa, OK. That’s something special.’”
Mahomes capped off a mature, promising performance by marching the Chiefs down the field on near 80-yard drive to set up the game winning field goal by Harrison Butker.
In all, the former Texas Tech standout completed 22 of 35 passes for 285 yards and ran for a further ten yards in the game.
"It was just so smooth," Reid said of Mahomes' first game as the starter.
With Smith out, Reid and his staff will now have a full offseason with Mahomes to mould him into a more refined version of himself. The playmaking ability is there, he just needs to cut out the damaging plays where his big arm and confidence get the better of him and he tries to squeeze the ball into ambitiously tight windows.
Reid is optimistic that he can do just that though, and said during an appearance on the NFL Network last week:
“He’s got a lot to prove, but he’s wired the right way.”.
If Reid is to be believed, and there's really no reason to doubt him, exciting times lay ahead in KC.
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