General manager Brett Veach slipped in a few superlatives at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Thursday when asked about the plan for Mahomes as a rookie, one that saw him play and start just once, that being the final regular season game against the Broncos.
“We had a plan for Patrick and that was to come in, to learn the offense and not go out there and play until you have a firm mental grasp of what you want to accomplish,’’ Veach said of Mahomes, who spent the rest of the season as a backup to Alex Smith. “All of the physical tools are there. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen. But you don’t want to throw him out there too soon. You want them to really be who they are and not have to process too much. Just play. Coach had a vision. We brought him along slowly and we’re excited for him and for the future.’’
Veach’s optimism is justified. Mahomes showed uncommon ability during training camp, the preseason and against the Broncos.
But remember that officially Mahomes isn’t even the Chiefs’ starting quarterback yet. Smith remains on the roster and will be there until the trade that sends him to Washington becomes official on March 14.
Veach said he couldn’t speak about the Smith trade or the one involving cornerback Marcus Peters until then. But he revealed the Chiefs’ plans when he said, “We’re tremendously excited about Pat Mahomes and his future with the Chiefs. We look forward to ushering in a new age of Kansas City Chiefs football.’’
The plan for last season was for Smith to be the starter and Mahomes to take over in 2018, assuming they believed he was ready for the promotion. Mahomes confirmed he was, at least in the eyes of the Chiefs, from the way he played against the Broncos.
He was 22-of-35 for 284 yards and led the Chiefs on a late drive that resulted in a game-winning field goal and a 27-24 victory.
“It was something we all expected from the day Pat stepped on the field in the rookie minicamps, the [offseason practices], training camp,’’ Veach said. “He’s always wowed us. He has a lot to learn yet but he grew tremendously. Having watched him day in and day out just impress us, take to the studying, take to working the craft, he did a tremendous job. I think we knew when the Denver game rolled around he would absolutely make plays and show all the things he showed us throughout the process.’’