Kansas City, Mo. — The Chiefs boldly moved up in the NFL draft on Thursday night to select Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick, giving them an heir apparent to veteran Alex Smith.
Kansas City sent its first-round picks this year and next year and one of two third-round picks in this year’s draft to Buffalo, climbing from the No. 27 pick to take the second QB off the board. North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky went to the Chicago Bears second overall, while Heisman Trophy winner Deshaun Watson of Clemson went to the Houston Texans at No. 12.
“Right now, Patrick isn’t absolutely ready to play. He’s got some work to do,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “But he’s coming into a great room, he has an opportunity to learn from Alex, which will be a great for him. We have to have some patience with him, but he has tremendous upside.”
It’s the third time in the common draft era that Kansas City has taken a quarterback in the first round, and the first since Todd Blackledge in 1983. Mahomes is also the second QB to be taken in the first round by a Reid-coach team following Donovan McNabb with Philadelphia in 1999.
He also drew some comparisons to another protégé of Reid: Brett Favre.
“They’re different players. Brett is a Hall-of-Fame player. This kid has a long way to go before that,” Reid said, “but when you have an opportunity to talk to them and be around him and feel a certain energy, and then you see him practice, you’ll see a certain intensity you like.”
The big-armed son of former big league pitcher Pat Mahomes, the younger Mahomes will try to buck a trend of spread-style quarterbacks from Texas Tech that have failed to thrive in the NFL. Among them is Kliff Kingsbury, who spent the past four seasons tutoring Mahomes with the Red Raiders.
The Chiefs were in the market for a quarterback with Smith nearing the end of his career.
The former No. 1 overall pick of the 49ers, Smith arrived in Kansas City with Reid and general manager John Dorsey four years ago. And he’s played well enough to lead the Chiefs to three playoff appearances, an AFC West title this past season and earn a $68 million, four-year contract extension that could keep him with the Chiefs through the 2018 season.
That timetable is important: It gives Mahomes at least one season and possibly two to learn Reid’s offense from a trusted veteran. And if Mahomes proves to be a quick study, Smith can be released after next season with a relatively minimal impact on the salary cap.
“We just thought with what we do, Mahomes would fit in well,” Reid said. “We had all the guys in — all the quarterbacks came in. We had an opportunity to spend six hours with each guy. It was a great experience to meet all those guys. But we thought with what we do, Patrick would fit best.”
Much like other Texas Tech quarterbacks, Mahomes posted up eye-popping numbers in a pass-heavy offense geared to putting up points. He started 29 games over three seasons and became only the third player in Football Bowl Subdivision history with multiple seasons of 5,000 yards total offense.
He threw for 5,052 yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season.