Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes has risen up draft boards as more teams seem to be forgiving the fact that he plays in the Red Raiders’ Air Raid spread offense that inflates stats, and instead focusing on his athleticism, size, and arm strength. It’s not strange that more and more teams are interested in Mahomes, but the fact that the Seattle Seahawks could count themselves among them is definitely raising some eyebrows.
With John Schneider in attendance at the Texas Tech pro day, and Mahomes seemingly the only player of note there, could the Seahawks be seeking out a potential top tier backup and developmental trade chip?
The stats aren’t “undeniable” because people deny them all the time: The Red Raiders style of offense is not only unsuitable at the pro level, it also benefits from playing the defense-less Big 12. The stats are, however, still awesome: Over the last two seasons, Mahomes has thrown for over 9,700 yards, 77 touchdowns, 25 interceptions, and another 22 touchdowns on the ground. He was the recipient of the Sammy Baugh award as the nation’s top passer in 2016 for his efforts. Past winners include Derek Carr and Sam Bradford, but they also include 2015 winner Matt Johnson (who?) and Brandon Doughty (wha?). Mahomes is the fourth QB from Texas Tech to win the award since 2002, following in the footsteps of Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons, and Graham Harrell. They are all shining examples of why the Red Raiders offense is purely mythical for most, but perhaps Harrell is the best example of why Mahomes is going to get dinged by some.
Harrell holds eight individual NCAA records and finished fourth in 2008 Heisman voting, with more than a few in his corner saying that he’d break the mold for Texas Tech QBs in the NFL; but he went undrafted and spent three forgettable (as if they were memories you were meant to bank) seasons buried on the Green Bay Packers depth chart. So what makes Mahomes different? Well, mobility, arm strength, accuracy, and extending plays has quite a lot to do with it and could be why this “unconventional” quarterback could go earlier than expected.
A sentence that you could have just as easily written about Russell Wilson five years ago. Therein lies at least one pretty good reason to suspect that Schneider at least wants to cover all of his bases with Mahomes before just letting him slide by without having done his homework. It may also just be so that he can make the most convincing pitch possible when teams start calling for pick 26 should Mahomes fall to the back of the first round.
Good franchises regularly add quarterbacks through the draft knowing that the position is the only one in football that actually appreciates from not playing. The New England Patriots are playing that card right now with Jimmy Garoppolo and the Packers once found the face of their franchise at pick 24 because they felt only a moron would lose out on Aaron Rodgers just because they were already set at quarterback for the next few years. I don’t think that Mahomes is worthy of comparison as a prospect to Rodgers, and I don’t believe they would or should spend a first round pick on a QB just in the hopes that they could trade him for a first in the future, but they could also potentially be looking to trade down or up (from their second round pick) should Mahomes find his way to day two. It would not be a popular move, but Seattle may not even have a backup QB right now given the recent arrest of Trevone Boykin, a player who already was in position to fight for his roster spot next season. The Seahawks got very lucky that Wilson didn’t miss a start last year given his injuries and his injury-potential behind the worst offensive line in football, and so there’s also reason to believe that Seattle wants to add insurance at quarterback and not be a team left out of the postseason because they convinced themselves that nothing could ever happen to the face of their franchise; especially if they have to put George Fant out there to protect him once again.
That is my pitch to you for why they could be looking at Mahomes, but it’s not a position I feel strongly about in the slightest. More likely than not, Schneider is doing his due diligence, either for a trade, or in the off-chance that Mahomes slips all the way to round three. It’s not something that anyone expects, but unexpected things happen in literally every draft. Hugely unexpected things. Like Rodgers slipping to 24 and Harrell going undrafted. As far as if Schneider was there to scout someone else, I don’t see it. Texas Tech doesn’t really have anyone else and I don’t think the Seahawks are in the habit of sending their GM to scout undrafted free agent prospects. And then again, maybe Schneider was just there to scout the interest of John Lynch (also in attendance) in Mahomes and gauge whether or not he could be going to the San Francisco 49ers and if Seattle needs to be shopping that pick to keep him out of San Francisco.
There are a number of possibilities, but one thing we know for sure: Schneider was there. That means something. We just don’t know what it means and we may never know.