KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The process of making Patrick Mahomes into an NFL quarterback could be a time-consuming endeavor for the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey were clear when they drafted Mahomes in the first round last week that they feel he needs time to develop before he's ready to play and they're in no mood to rush him into the lineup.
That process begins with Mahomes on Saturday, when the Chiefs start a three-day rookie camp. Mahomes will be on the practice field and in the classroom for the first time as a pro.
"First off, I will be just diving into the playbook, just learning as much as I can as fast as I can," Mahomes said shortly after being drafted. "I'm just going to try to get that down and then after that it's going to be working [on throwing mechanics].
"You just really have to focus on your footwork, getting through your throws and all that type of stuff. You have to really drive that. You have to be on time with your throws."
While the Chiefs hope Mahomes eventually becomes the type of franchise quarterback they haven't had at least since Lenny Dawson in the 1960s and 1970s, the initial expectations will be minimal. Mahomes played in the spread offense in college at Texas Tech, so everything from calling the plays to taking snaps from under center is new to him.
"Obviously, it's a different scheme," Reid said. "You won't see the coordination with his feet and his drop according to the route that's called. So he has to do that. We'll ask him to go under center. He's been working on that for the last couple months. This is with every young quarterback, getting to know the coverages per your route that you're going to ask him to deal with, per the drop that he's asked to make to throw against those coverages. It takes a little bit of time to get all that down. Really, he's not coming from a system that did that too much.”
Mahomes has a strong arm and a lot of confidence in it, as he showed occasionally at Texas Tech by trying to force throws into tight windows. He could often get away with that in college, but it will be more difficult in the NFL, where the defenders are more experienced and skilled.
The Chiefs will try to coach that out of him as well.
"When you have a defense like we have at the Kansas City Chiefs, you have to make sure you protect the ball," Mahomes said. "That's the biggest thing is turnovers in the NFL. So you have to make sure you protect the ball and keep the chains moving.
"That's just going to come with maturity and hard work and preparation, taking those reckless parts of my game out of it and still keep the playmaking ability. So it's really going to be about me working hard every single day at practice and in the film room. Whatever I can do to make myself better.”
The Chiefs are so confident Mahomes will eventually figure it all out that they traded next year's first-round pick so they could move up to get him. Dorsey even went so far as to compare Mahomes' confidence in his throws to that of Brett Favre. Dorsey was a scout for the Packers when Favre was their quarterback.
"He is a football junkie," Dorsey said of his new quarterback. "He wants to do everything right. He wants to please the coach. I think that's a big deal. This guy just wants to play football. I used to know a guy (Favre) and he used to flip it into coverage, too, sometimes. He made it in the Hall of Fame one day.
"I'm not comparing him, but I am just saying."