Patrick Mahomes II is headed to the NFL, with the endorsement of a super agent who believes the former Texas Tech star could be next in his line of great pro quarterbacks.
Mahomes made his intentions known to enter the NFL at a press conference Tuesday at the Texas Tech football training facility with famous agent Leigh Steinberg looking on.
“I am foregoing my senior season and declaring for the NFL draft,” Mahomes said. “This is the best decision for me and my family going forward. With my love for Texas Tech, this was a very hard decision.”
Steinberg, who’s represented 60 first-round draft choices including eight No. 1 overall picks, and Chris Cabott will be Mahomes’ agents. Both attended Mahomes’ announcement. As he read a prepared statement and took questions, Mahomes was flanked by most of his family seated to his left and two former Major League pitchers to his right: his father, Pat Mahomes, and his godfather, LaTroy Hawkins.
“I think he’s a franchise quarterback, potentially, who can help a team grow around him,” Steinberg said. “He’s got as strong an arm as anyone in the draft. He’s smart. He’s mobile. He really has all the qualities you need to play.
“I’ve represented Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Warren Moon, Ben Roethlisberger, a whole series of quarterbacks. I think he fits right in. I think he’s a little bit of a cross between a Ben Roethlisberger — little smaller — and Aaron Rodgers. Smart, very hard to bring down, and I think he’s going to be a franchise quarterback for some team.”
Mahomes said Steinberg’s who’s who list of star quarterbacks enticed him.
“Leigh’s experience with quarterbacks is really going to help me out through my career,” Mahomes said, “and I truly believe that.”
Mahomes, the two-time FBS total offense leader, said he will leave Wednesday for San Diego, where he will train for about six weeks leading up to the NFL combine. At the Exos human performance center in San Diego, he’ll work with Mike Sheppard, the former New Mexico head coach who became an offensive coordinator for three NFL teams.
An NFL advisory board gives underclassmen who ask a rating of first round, second round or return to school. Mahomes said he was given a second-round grade. Mahomes father said he received the feedback about Dec. 12 or 13 and then his son set about making his decision.
“It was a tussle,” the quarterback said. “I went back and forth a little bit, but as December went on I started to lean more and more toward the draft and it kind of seemed like the right decision, and I believe it was.”
The elder Mahomes disputed reports he pressured his son to leave school.
“That’s not true at all,” Mahomes said. “I told him it was his decision. I told him this was the one time in his life that he can be selfish. I’ve been to every game. No matter whether he came back here or went pro, it was going to be the same.
“I told him I didn’t care one way or the other. ‘You’ve got to do what’s best for you.’ I said, ‘I’ve already had my career in professional sports. It’s whenever you think you’re ready. You’re going to be the one that has to look back on it and have any regrets or not. You’ve just got to make an educated decision, and whatever you choose, I’m behind you 100 percent.’”
The quarterback corroborated what his father said.
Asked what role his family played, Mahomes said, “The biggest thing was, it was my decision. They were going to support me either way. They were going to follow me either way. They’ve been with me since the beginning. It was my decision the whole way. They were just going to help guide me as best they can.”
Mahomes’ strong arm and athletic ability coupled with his inconsistent mechanics have led to a wide range of opinions about whether he’s ready for the NFL and how high he might be taken. The agent said Mahomes need wow only a few teams.
“It’s more important in this process that two or three teams think he’s their guy,” Steinberg said, “than that 29 teams think he’s pretty good.”
Steinberg said he’s confident that will happen when scouts watch and interview Mahomes at the combine and at Texas Tech’s pro day.
“Patrick has all the character, athletic abilities, an arm like a howitzer cannon,” Steinberg said, “and he will be, I think, superb at this.”
The former Tech quarterback had surgery on his left wrist after the season for an injury he suffered during his record-setting performance Oct. 22 against Oklahoma. Mahomes said he gets the cast off Wednesday.
“Then I’ll be able to start rehabbing a little bit more and getting going,” he said. “I’ve already been working out and doing stuff, just to keep myself in shape.”
The Red Raiders went 5-7 and didn’t qualify for a bowl game, but Mahomes finished with 5,052 passing yards and 53 total touchdowns, both of which lead the FBS. He was also the FBS leader in total offense (5,337), passing yards per game (421.0) and total offense per game (442.7).
Mahomes is only the third FBS quarterback in the NCAA to post at least 5,000 yards of total offense in multiple seasons, joining former Red Raider quarterback Graham Harrell (2007-08) and Houston’s Case Keenum (2008-09, 2011).
He is the 12th quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season. Mahomes also rushed for 12 touchdowns, the most for a Tech quarterback.
Senior Nic Shimonek will be the favorite to take over as Tech’s starting quarterback when spring practice begins.