Patrick Mahomes, as you knew him, is dead. The gunslinging quarterback you knew and loved has passed. Let’s take a moment to remember his last throw ever — this run-pass option smoke screen for Texas Tech against Baylor:
Rest in peace. You will be missed.
Patrick Mahomes was really fun to watch. He made daring throws, he hated the pocket, and he threw for a million yards once. But when he got drafted by the Chiefs, that Patrick Mahomes had to die. You’re never going to see the quarterback you saw at Texas Tech again. Pat made it work in college, but once the 2016 season ended, he knew the writing was on the wall and he’d have to change.
Mahomes’ mechanics at Texas Tech were a disaster.
From a technical and mechanical standpoint, Patrick Mahomes was one of the worst quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. I say that without any hyperbole. His throwing mechanics are hands down the worst of any quarterback taken in the first round in at least a decade. This is a screen cap of a Mahomes throw:
The first thing you notice is how low his elbow is when he comes through to throw. It’s close to sidearm, which puts a lot of stress on his scapula.
Compare that to Deshaun Watson, who has great mechanics:
High elbow, no stress.
Next, we’ll look at the legs and hip movement. One of the things that I like about Mahomes is how much energy he creates from his back (right) leg by squatting down on it and then pushing off to create explosion. This is actually really good, but the problem is that he never transfers that energy anywhere. You can see that his hips just stop rotating, and his leg kinda dangles there behind him.
When he steps with his left plant leg, he ends up turning his knee inside. This is weird, and I’ve never seen a lot of (read: any) quarterbacks do that. We want that knee to be solid or rotate a little outward. If your hips are rotating, your body is going to rotate a little out also. Mahomes’ knee is locked with an interior rotation.
No one has perfect mechanics, but these are so bad that I have a hard time believing that he can be consistently accurate in the NFL. Mechanics are one part of the accuracy equation, and when the throwing windows get tighter in the NFL, you want everything at your disposal to help you complete passes. You’re also going to cause less physical damage to your body when you throw with good technique.
It appears that there’s an entirely new Patrick Mahomes this offseason.
Video of Mahomes at Kansas City’s OTAs in May suggests that the Chiefs are working with him on his technique — and that it’s showing success:
Look at that elbow:
The elbow is high, there’s no more interior rotation of his left leg, and he’s starting to transfer the energy all the way from his back leg forward. He still slashes a bit — remnants of throwing sidearm so much — but it’s really not bad. In fact, these are good mechanics. He did this in about six months.
When the NFL scouts went to his pro day at Texas Tech earlier this offseason, they saw Patrick Mahomes v2, and they got really giddy. They saw a guy who knew he couldn’t survive in the NFL with how he was throwing in college, so he worked on it and got better.
Mahomes is still going to be a work in progress for Kansas City, however
The throwing mechanics are a start, but there is still plenty left for Andy Reid and the Chiefs to do with Mahomes. He doesn’t like the pocket. He ends up leaving it quite often even when he has no reason to do so. Luckily for him, he’s so big and athletic that Big 12 defensive lineman and linebackers had trouble chasing him down in the backfield. This led to coverage breakdowns, and Mahomes was able to create big plays down the field. It’s shocking how much this happened:
This kind of quarterback play is boom or bust, and oftentimes Mahomes didn’t need to bounce out of the pocket to make plays. You could just as easily find examples of Mahomes leaving the pocket when he didn’t have to — and then get picked off.
On the bright side, while he does leave the pocket too early sometimes, he manages to step up into his pocket and deliver throws. Again, though, his technique is so unconventional that it often puts him in bad situations. Quarterbacks are taught that every time you move on to a different read, you have to hitch up with your feet and move your eyes to your next read at the same time. Watch Drew Brees do it:
We want to hitch because it keeps us in a good pre-throwing position. We can release the football immediately while still having the same posture we would if we had just finished our dropback.
Mahomes turns his body and starts running forward instead of hitching up. So, yes, it’s great that he feels some comfort in the pocket to move up, but turning his shoulders and throwing on the run is going to create accuracy issues. Why throw on the run if we don’t need to, right?
(Of course, the example I use is of him throwing a damn touchdown.)
Just like his throwing mechanics, this is fixable. The Chiefs are working on it, based on what we can tell from their offseason workouts.
Mahomes knew he needed to start changing his mechanics to be a viable NFL quarterback
The NFL wants its quarterbacks to look a certain way, and Patrick Mahomes didn’t look even close to that ideal. That’s why he had to die and be reborn as “Patrick Mahomes v2.” If the Chiefs can harness him to where his cannon of an arm can become more consistent and he can start making more plays from inside the pocket, he can be a successful quarterback. The athletic traits will always be there for Mahomes; he’s big, strong, and can evade defenders. But those are all bonus features for a quarterback.
I’m really looking forward to see the new Patrick Mahomes. Playing football should be fun, and no one has a better time playing it than Patrick Mahomes.