What if the Kansas City Chiefs didn't trade up for Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL Draft?
Mark Van Sickle
Chiefs Kingdom will forever remember the 2017 NFL Draft as "The Mahomes Draft.” No matter which lens you decide to look through, historically speaking, the Chiefs came out as winners. However, in an alternate universe, things could have looked very different. (For example, the Bears could have actually talked to Deshaun Watson.)
The 2017 quarterback class was widely regarded as an underwhelming group of guys. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson was the battle-tested college quarterback who played well in high-pressure situations. North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky was the developmental quarterback who many thought had the highest ceiling with some grooming.
Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes was the gunslinger coming out of the Big 12, a conference that hadn’t had much success with quarterbacks at the NFL level. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer wasn’t seen as a first-round talent but sometimes weird things happen on draft day. In this alternate universe, Kizer still isn’t picked until the second round. However, the fate of the other three would be changed forever.
This is now your altered universe.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks from the stage, “With the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select quarterback DeShaun Watson, Clemson University.” The Bears brass realizes San Francisco 49ers General Manager John Lynch is trying to play them. They don’t fall for it and they stay put with the number three pick and grab the safest quarterback in this class. Bears General Manager Ryan Pace would think this is a franchise-changing pick. Some are skeptical but the majority agree with his assessment.
Fast forward to pick No. 25 and the other quarterbacks are sliding. No one has made any moves to trade up and grab a QB. The Houston Texans are on the clock. Goodell steps back up to the stage, “With the 25th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech.” Mahomes and his family are ecstatic to see him drafted to a team in their home state. Highlights of his college career and comparisons to Brett Favre are being made by the experts.
Another pick goes by and now the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock. Do they look for an eventual replacement for Alex Smith or look to improve the defense? Enter Goodell standing at the podium, “With the 27th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina.”
Analysts are shocked Trubisky made it this far down the board. Chiefs fans are happy to see a quarterback taken in the first round for the first time since 1983, but they are a bit skeptical of the player. The same fanbase and media alike universally declare at least they have Andy Reid and Trubisky can sit behind Alex Smith for a year or two.
The 2017 season comes and goes. Mitchell Trubusky started Week 17 in Denver since the Chiefs clinched their playoff spot the week prior. He looked a little bit lost but led the team to a close victory. Harrison Butker still makes a game-winning field goal. In the playoffs, the Chiefs host a first-round playoff game with Alex Smith leading the charge.
Unfortunately, it’s not the Tennessee Titans who knock them out in this home playoff scenario, but it is Patrick Mahomes and the Houston Texans who come into Arrowhead and upset the Chiefs. In the NFC, DeShaun Watson beat out Mike Glennon for the starting role but couldn’t quite elevate the Bears to the playoffs in his rookie season due to a nagging injury that kept him from reaching his full potential. Mahomes and the Texans eventually lose to the Patriots in New England. The Eagles still win the Super Bowl.
Skip ahead to the 2018 season. The Chiefs don’t think Trubisky is ready and they keep Alex Smith through the final year of his contract. The season goes about as expected. KC makes the playoffs with a 10-6 record before getting knocked out by the Patriots. Mahomes and the Texans get to the AFC Championship game but once again get edged out by the Patriots in their bid for a Super Bowl appearance.
On the NFC side, Watson really starts to hit his stride with Head Coach Matt Nagy. He leads the Bears to an NFC North title and victories over the Eagles and Rams to get them into the Super Bowl. The Bears defense dominates the Patriots in the Super Bowl and Watson throws for three touchdowns and no interceptions to lead Chicago to their first Super Bowl Championship since 1985. Chicago gets its parade.
The 2019 season is set to begin. Trubisky takes over as the starter for the Chiefs. He looks a lot like Alex Smith 2.0. He leads the Chiefs to a 9-7 record which narrowly beats the Raiders out for an AFC West Championship. The Chiefs beat the Titans in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and Kansas City fans think they might have something in Trubisky. Unfortunately, the Chiefs ran into Mahomes and the Texans in the Divisional Round and lost in a shootout, 51-31.
The Bears make the playoffs again, behind Watson’s leadership, but run into a buzzsaw in the San Francisco 49ers and fall just short of making it back-to-back Super Bowls. The Houston Texans start out slow but wind up doing just enough in the fourth quarter to beat the 49ers 31-20 for their first-ever Super Bowl Championship.
Chiefs fans continue questioning Andy Reid and if he can ever win the big one. Former Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey gets crushed weekly on sports talk radio for not trading up to get Mahomes. Will the Chiefs ever escape the trend of being just good enough to get into the playoffs every year, but never have a quarterback who can elevate them to the ultimate prize?
Now, Chiefs Kingdom, let’s wake up from that alternate universe nightmare. The reality is the Kansas City Chiefs have the 2018 NFL MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP as their starting quarterback. This team is looking like it could become the next great sports dynasty. It is good to be a Chiefs fan.