Peter King Revisits KC Chiefs Beating Saints, Cardinals to Draft Patrick Mahomes

The Kansas City Chiefs are fresh off back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl and consecutive victories in the NFL’s biggest game. There may not have been a greater contributor along the club’s championship runs than quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is off to the greatest start to a career in league history.

In April of 2017, when Kansas City drafted Mahomes, the franchise likely didn’t think they’d picked someone who could eventually go down as perhaps a top-two quarterback ever. While the Chiefs remained confident in Mahomes’s skill set and upside, this is certainly the 100th percentile outcome.

That’s the chance teams take on prospects brimming with potential, though. The Chiefs won the race for Mahomes by trading up from 27th to 10th in the first round, beating out other teams to the now two-time NFL MVP. The story of general manager Brett Veach’s scouting obsession with Mahomes is well-documented, but the impact of that pick isn’t reflected on all that often.

In his famous Football Morning in America column this week, Peter King of NBC Sports reported on the selection of Mahomes. Speaking to Veach following Super Bowl LVIII, it was apparent that a perfect storm unfolded for the heist to occur more than half a decade ago.

All along, Kansas City figured it’d be smart to move ahead of New Orleans at 11. Trading to seven was out of the question (Chargers wouldn’t trade within the division); trading to eight with Carolina was impossible, because the Panthers were stuck on picking Christian McCaffrey if he was there. At nine, well, the Bengals had a history of keeping their high picks, and Cincinnati sent word it was staying put. That left number 10. Buffalo.

Said Veach: “I think a combination of a couple things worked in our favor. It’s not easy to move from 27 to 10. But Buffalo, at 10, just had a coaching change, and there’s a good chance they wanted picks to put some pieces together. Plus, what helped us is the teams that might have taken Pat were at 11, 12, 13, and so if we could get to 10, that seemed like a good spot to pick Patrick.

Despite the abundance of pre-draft questions surrounding Mahomes’s NFL viability, there was no shortage of potential suitors. The New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals, picking 11th and 13th, were very interested in his profile.

According to King, Saints then-head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis were “smitten” with Mahomes. Leading up to the first round, Payton told pro golfers Ryan Palmer and Jordan Spieth that Mahomes was the “steal of the draft.” While New Orleans was happy to land Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore, King still used the word “regret” when describing the feeling once the dust had completely settled and Mahomes wasn’t a Saint.

The Cardinals, too, were infatuated with Mahomes’s tools and room for growth. According to King, the former Texas Tech standout “was not getting past Arizona” if he slid that far on the board. When the Chiefs executed a massive trade-up for Mahomes, it left former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians “stunned” at the outcome. Linebacker Haason Reddick’s 2020 breakout before free agency made their 2017 pick look less unfavorable, but landing Mahomes would’ve altered the trajectory of the franchise. The same applies to New Orleans, a team that finds itself in yearly salary cap purgatory in the post-Drew Brees era.

Hindsight is crystal clear, so every team that missed out on Mahomes can look back and wish they would’ve pulled the trigger on picking him. The Saints and Cardinals, in particular, are kicking themselves. Kansas City’s consistent interest in Mahomes is now known but leading up to the draft, they appeared to be in the same boat as several other intrigued organizations.

The rest is history, however, and the Chiefs are surely thanking their lucky stars that everything went according to plan.

Gideon Canice

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