Why was Patrick Mahomes overlooked for the first-overall draft pick in 2017? Evaluating the QBs drafted ahead of him

Texas Tech v Arizona State
Patrick Mahomes for Texas Tech v Arizona State

Patrick Mahomes has been one of the leading quarterbacks ever since he started playing in the NFL. He has won one Super Bowl, reached another, and looks the most likely of any current generation of players to break longstanding records.

Given his impact on the league so far, it seems quite incongruous that he was not picked first overall. To understand what happened, we have to look at the composition and order of the 2017 NFL Draft. The overall first pick rested with the Cleveland Browns, who were coming off a 1-15 season.

They were parting ways with the previous year's starting quarterback Robert Griffin III. Theoretically, they could have gone for a quarterback but they had needs all over the field. They chose Myles Garrett and, in hindsight, it has turned out to be a good selection.

The second draft selection was done by the Chicago Bears. They had traded up from their third spot with the San Francisco 49ers. They were only locked in on one quarterback and that was Mitchell Trubisky.

Mitchell Trubisky was taken before Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft

Many NFL observers thought it was an odd choice that the Bears wanted Trubisky so badly. To understand why he was taken before Mahomes, we have to understand the motivations of General Manager Ryan Pace of the Bears.

He had come from the New Orleans Saints front office. To him, a franchise's success revolved around having a franchise quarterback. The prototypical quarterback he had in mind was Drew Brees.

Head coach John Fox did not want to draft a quarterback at all. Mike Glennon, the incumbent Chicago Bears quarterback, had just signed a contract extension. However, Pace believed they needed a newer and more permanent solution in that position.

Trubisky had played only one year as a starter in college. He did not have the championship winning experience of Deshaun Watson or the stats of Patrick Mahomes. But he liked what he saw on tape and saw Trubisky as the solution to all their problems and went ahead with him. In retrospect, one can clearly see that it did not work out that way.

Ryan Pace was the GM of the 2017 #Bears, traded up from the 3rd spot to the 2nd spot to secure his QB pick. He had the following choices:Patrick MahomesDeshuan WatsonMitchell TrubiskyHe picked the bust.What do the #Bears do? keep him at the job for at least 4 more seasons

Patrick Mahomes, meanwhile, came into the draft as a solid starter for Texas Tech. In his junior season with Texas Tech, he finished leading the country in several metrics. These included yards per game (421), passing yards (5,052), total offense (5,312), points responsible for (318), and total touchdowns (53).

He won the Sammy Baugh Trophy as the best college passer in the country. But what was Chicago's loss turned out to be Kansas City's gain. The Chiefs drafted him 10th overall. Deshaun Watson went as the 12th overall pick, meaning Mitchell Trubisky was the only quarterback drafted ahead of Patrick Mahomes.

Conversely, falling down in the draft might have helped Patrick Mahomes in his career. Instead of going to a weaker team, he went to a better team. He also got to learn from Alex Smith as his understudy for a year, something that would not have been available with the Chicago Bears. Since then, once he became the starter, he has become unstoppable.

@PatrickMahomes knows how to deliver an offensive showcase on every start... 🤩 🪃(via @NFL_Stats)#NFL #ChiefsKingdom

He won the NFL MVP in his first full season as a starter and followed it up with a Super Bowl victory and MVP a year later. He has reached one more Super Bowl and made it all the way to the AFC Championship game last year. He is on his way to obliterating the passing yards record for a season if he keeps playing the way he has been, having accumulated 3,265 yards and 28 touchdowns in 10 games so far this season.

Those that passed on Patrick Mahomes have never been made to look so foolish. It is likely a mistake that will haunt Chicago forever.

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Edited by John Maxwell
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