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Talbot: Mahomes makes right decision to leave Tech for NFL draft

Posted: January 3, 2017 - 10:07pm

Pat Mahomes sat in the car with his son and gave him the advice he thought he needed to hear.

“It was his junior year and we were coming back from a recruiting trip to Texas and he was being recruited there as a safety,” Mahomes said. “I told him, ‘Why don’t you give this football thing up? You know you’re not going play it in college or anything. You’re going to play either basketball or baseball. Why don’t you give it up?’ He said, ‘No dad, I’m just going to try one more year.’”

Patrick Mahomes II, a budding basketball and baseball star for Whitehouse High School, didn’t heed his father’s or then Texas coach Mack Brown’s advice. The elder Mahomes said Brown wanted Patrick as a safety.

“I told him, ‘That lets me know they don’t watch film,’ because that boy ain’t tackled nobody in two years. He can intercept the ball, but he wasn’t no safety for sure.”

That was four years ago. Now, Patrick Mahomes II is going to be playing football for a few more years. Tuesday, the (former) Texas Tech quarterback became one of the hottest names in the NFL draft when he declared for the draft at a press conference at the Texas Tech football training facility.

There was little reason for Mahomes II to stay.

Yes, he could have stayed loyal to the Red Raiders and come back for his senior year. But why? Texas Tech’s much maligned defense probably wasn’t going afford him a shot at a Big 12 title or the Heisman Trophy — while it should improve next season, it is still a work in progress.

Patrick Mahomes II isn’t — at least not on the college level.

He still has to learn to play under center and learn the correct three- , five- and seven-step drops for the NFL.

But, he has an NFL arm — an arm his agent Leigh Steinberg (yeah, the Jerry Maguire guy, but also the Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Warren Moon, Ben Roethlisberger guy) called the strongest in the draft class.

And the quarterback class of 2017 is weak. I like Deshaun Watson, but Mitch Trubisky? DeShone Kizer? Please. The Cleveland Browns will probably draft one of them, and that tells you all you need to know.

With his athleticism and arm, Mahomes II could jump them all by the time the scouting combine is finished.

“I think right now (my draft projection) is somewhere in the first, second or third round,” Mahomes said. “It was one where I submitted my grade and I got the second-round grade. I think a lot of teams had different projections. I’m just going to go out there and train and try to get up as high as I can and get to the right fit.”

That’s the key, of course. The right fit.

Dak Prescott got it and so did Carson Wentz.

There have been plenty who haven’t, though.

The list of failed NFL quarterbacks who excelled in college and were drafted high is long — Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, Geno Smith, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert. Really, I could go on for days here. Those are just a few recent examples.

The goal for Mahomes now has to be to avoid the early demise and he knows that might mean not being taken in the first round. Prescott was a fourth-round pick. Joe Montana and Russell Wilson went in the third round. Tom Brady wasn’t selected until the sixth round.

“I pretty much just want to get picked on the right team,” Mahomes said. “… It happens. You can get picked late in the draft. You can get picked early. If you get put in the right situation to learn, you get to get better every single day. That’s what I like to do.”

Who would’ve guessed, back in Mahomes’ Whitehouse days, that such an approach would put him in this enviable spot?

“If you had asked anyone when I was a sophomore in high school if I would’ve even been in college playing football, they would’ve said never,” Mahomes said. “It’s something that’s just kind of unfolded. … I’ve got a late start compared to a lot of other people, especially quarterbacks that have gone to camps their whole life. I’ve never really had quarterback training until I got here with coach (Kliff) Kingsbury. He’s taken me from a really raw, raw talent to where I am today.”

Mahomes ended his Red Raider career as a prominent name in the Tech record book as his 11,252 career passing yards and 12,097 career yards of total offense both rank third historically behind only Graham Harrell (2005-08) and his head coach Kliff Kingsbury (1999-02).

Mahomes was responsible for 115 touchdowns over his 29 career starts, which ranks second in program history. He torched opposing defenses with 93 touchdowns through the air – third-most in Tech history – while also finding the end zone 22 times on the ground, which ranks second among Tech quarterbacks.

The numbers are big.

So is his potential.

Where he takes it from here is Mel Kiper’s best guess.

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