Some of the Big 12’s biggest stars are facing difficult decisions on whether they should enter the NFL draft or come back to school. With so many factors to consider, this is rarely an easy call. So we’ve decided to help each of them out by putting together a short list of pros and cons for going pro.
We’ll begin this series today by taking a closer look at Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.
Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes II
2016 stats: 5,052 passing yards, 65 percent passer, 41 passing TDs, 10 interceptions, 285 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs
Pros of going pro
1. So much talent: NFL scouts will absolutely adore Mahomes' rare arm talent. He’s a confident, fearless player who can make every throw and extend plays with his feet and his creativity. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, size is no issue. This is a mature dude with a good head on his shoulders who possesses a lot of exciting attributes. He’ll have to contend with the concerns NFL folks have about quarterbacks from Air Raid systems, but imagine what his ceiling might be when he adjusts to operating an NFL offense.
2. Injury factor: Mahomes dealt with shoulder and wrist injuries this season, a knee injury last season, and was knocked out of a game with a concussion as a freshman. He’s still never missed a start. That’s one tough hombre. Mahomes dropped back to pass 662 times this season and was hit 133 times. He logged 104 rushes, and that’s excluding sacks. It’s reasonable for any player to fear that, by coming back, an injury could occur that damages his draft position and long-term future. If that player has Mahomes' injury history and high-usage demands, it has to at least be a consideration.
3. More of the same: Yes, Texas Tech brings back nearly everybody on offense in 2017. But you have to wonder how much the program’s defensive woes have weighed on Mahomes. He’s lost four times in the past two seasons when Tech scored at least 50 points. He’s the most prolific passer in the nation and he’s not going to a bowl. The nation’s worst scoring defense can only get better in 2017, but how much better? Even if Mahomes puts together an even more insane senior season, Tech can’t win a Big 12 title without a significantly improved defense.
Cons of going pro
1. No guarantees: This is a strange year for quarterbacks in the NFL draft, with no clear-cut franchise QBs. There might not be many first-rounders, either. Suppose Kiper is right and Mahomes is the fifth-best quarterback in the draft. What if that means going in the third round? Or even the fourth? Falling past Round 2 comes with obvious financial implications. Derek Carr, a second-rounder, signed a $5.3 million rookie contract. Dak Prescott, a fourth-rounder, received $2.7 million. No matter what promises an agent makes, going pro now comes with a bit of a gamble.
2. Room to improve: Mahomes is not a finished product, and spending the next 12 months working with Kliff Kingsbury to improve his footwork and accuracy could definitely help his draft position. Keep in mind, Mahomes only gave up playing baseball 11 months ago. Another full offseason dedicated to fine-tuning his game could do wonders for his long-term development.
3. Unfinished legacy: Mahomes can cement his status as a Texas Tech legend if he stays one more season. He can become the Red Raiders’ all-time leader in passing, total offense and touchdowns, and finish as one of the top five passers in FBS history. He can be a Heisman contender. He can keep building his resume. Does he want to leave with a 13-16 record as a starter and 0-9 against top-25 teams? After this 5-7 season, there’s plenty of unfinished business. Going pro means passing up a year of superstardom in college to be a backup in the NFL.