Should the Bears have selected Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft? Yes, they absolutely should have. Would they be in a much better spot if they had done so? Yeah, that also feels like a safe assumption, as he is a generational talent capable of raising the level of play of those around him. With that said, they decided to go in another direction, and so did eight of the other franchises picking inside the top ten. Only four teams (the Titans, Bengals, Chargers, and Panthers) probably felt good about their quarterback position with the Texas Tech product still on the board, and the four others chose to pass on him anyway. Why do we never hear anything about their egregious mistake of passing up on greatness?
The Browns opted to select Myles Garrett with the top pick and found their starting signal-caller in the second round with the selection of Notre Dame passer DeShone Kizer. All he did in his rookie season (and only year as a starter) was lead the league with 22 interceptions and help Cleveland finish with the second winless season in league history. It is safe to say Mahomes would have fared a bit better, even if he too would have struggled under those circumstances (I mean would have at least won a game).
Meanwhile, the outlook might not have been as bleak in the Bay, but the 49ers still entered the season with journeyman Brian Hoyer under center. However, that experiment didn’t last long, as they traded for Jimmy Garoppolo midway through the year. If Mahomes were starting for them instead of playing on the opposite sidelines in Super Bowl LIV, it feels safe to say they would have come out on top of the matchup. The fact that they passed up on him rarely gets mentioned since the NFL media circuit would rather talk about how the ‘9ers front office fleeced the Bears in a trade-down (I mean they did, but the point stands).
Blake Bortles was two years removed from a breakout season in which he put up over 4000 yards and 35 touchdowns (seriously, not a joke, look it up). However, his numbers were down across the board the following year, and no one would have batted an eye if the Jaguars prioritized the quarterback position in 2017. They probably feel okay about their decision with Trevor Lawrence under center, but the Blake Bortles experience was not a fun one for Jacksonville’s 95 fans to sit through.
The Jets were in a similar position as the 49ers, as they were starting career journeyman Josh McCown at quarterback. McCown had his best season in 2017, and he might have even allowed Mahomes to sit a year and learn à la Alex Smith in Kansas City. However long it would have taken for him to get on the field, it is safe to say he would have saved the Jets fanbase from suffering through Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson.
The fact of the matter is the draft is a crapshoot. No one could have predicted Mahomes would become what he has, and they would have moved heaven and earth to get him in the building if they had. He was not lauded as a can’t-miss prospect in the same vein as Andrew Luck and Trevor Lawrence. Instead, he was a moldable (and very talented) ball of clay who landed in the perfect situation in Kansas City, where he had the opportunity to learn the game under one of the league’s top offensive minds in Andy Reid.
The Bears may have entertained the idea of picking Mahomes in 2017, but it seems more likely that he was a smokescreen to hide their interest in Mitchell Trubisky. The decision was obviously a huge mistake, but it doesn’t deserve any more criticism than the other QB-needy teams who also passed up on him. Justin Fields displayed elite playmaking potential this year, and the Bears shouldn’t be in the market for a quarterback anytime soon. Meanwhile, three of the other teams who picked inside the top ten will be looking for new signal-callers this offseason.
Myles Garrett is the only player picked before Mahomes who is still with the team that selected him. To take it one step further, none of the teams who picked ahead of Kansas City are starting the same quarterback they were in 2017. The only two teams that probably feel comfortable with their decision today would be the Jaguars and the Bengals, who selected (Smokin’ On That) Joe Burrow with the first pick in 2020.
NFL legend Josh Rosen said nine mistakes got picked ahead of him after being selected with the 10th pick in the 2018 draft. He was wrong. If Mahomes had made the same statement, he would have been right. Why is the Bears’ lousy selection the only one that gets scrutinized every slow news cycle?