The Patrick Mahomes hype train is going off the rails

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes /

The Kansas City Chiefs have high hopes for Patrick Mahomes, and ESPN’s Louis Riddick is doing nothing to slow down the hype train.

Patrick Mahomes has made one NFL start. He’s already being treated as a certain savior.

In terms of NFL experience, Mahomes has only played in a meaningless Week 17 game against the horrific Denver Broncos. Mahomes dazzled, throwing for 284 yards despite playing with a cast of backups, making at least a half-dozen throws that boggled the mind. None of this slowed down the proclamations of greatness.

After the Chiefs moved on from Alex Smith via trade in February, the keys were officially handed to the 22-year-old. Internally, Kansas City believes Mahomes is going to be a superstar. However, the franchise’s optimism about what could be its first franchise quarterback since Len Dawson isn’t exclusive to One Arrowhead Drive.

On Monday, former NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick went on the Will Cain Show and made a stunning statement, saying he believes that Mahomes will be better than Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz and Andrew Luck. All four of the aforementioned quarterbacks were either first or second-overall selections in their respective drafts, with Luck being tagged as a generational talent.

The best advice for Chiefs fans? Understand the reality of the situation, both good and bad. Few young quarterbacks have ever been surrounded by better weapons, with Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt in the fold. Then there is head coach Andy Reid, arguably the best offensive mind in the game.

Conversely, first-year starters at the quarterback spot rarely set the world ablaze. While Mahomes did have a year to learn the offense, he hasn’t faced defenses geared towards him. He hasn’t bee through the rigors of an NFL season, ranging from physical maladies to defensive coordinators adjusting to his game with film study.

Since 2010, here are the numbers from every first-round quarterback in their first full year of starting. The only qualifier is that they had at least 15 starts in either of their first two seasons.

Sam Bradford: 3,512 yards, 60.0 percent, 18 TDs and 15 INTs
Cam Newton: 4,051 yards, 60.0 percent, 21 TDs and 17 INTs
Christian Ponder: 2,935 yards, 62.1 percent, 18 TDs and 12 INTs
Andrew Luck: 4,374 yards, 54.1 percent, 23 TDs and 18 INTs
Robert Griffin: 3,200 yards, 65.6 percent, 20 TDs and 5 INTs (15 starts)
Ryan Tannehill: 3,294 yards, 58.3 percent, 12 TDs and 13 INTs
Brandon Weeden: 3,385 yards, 57.4 percent, 14 TDs and 17 INTs
Blake Bortles: 4,428 yards, 58.6 percent, 35 TDs and 18 INTs
Teddy Bridgewater: 3,231 yards, 65.3 percent, 14 TDs and 9 INTs
Jameis Winston: 4,042 yards, 58.3 percent, 22 TDs and 15 INTs
Marcus Mariota: 3,426 yards, 61.2 percent, 26 TDs and 9 INTs
Jared Goff: 3,804 yards, 62.1 percent, 28 TDs and 7 INTs (15 games)
Carson Wentz: 3,784 yards, 62.4 percent, 16 TDs and 14 INTs

Of the 13 quarterbacks who qualified, only three eclipsed 25 touchdown passes and Bortles was the only to break the 30-touchdown threshold. The interceptions are also notable, with 10 of the 13 going into double-digits.

Finally, Winston, Bortles, Luck and Newton cracked the 4,000-yard barrier, but three of those came on teams that finished with losing records. Only Luck was able to thrive while putting up big numbers, leading the Indianapolis Colts to the AFC South title.

None of this is to suggest Mahomes will bomb. In fact, the thought here is that Mahomes is more set up for success than any of the quarterbacks mentioned above considering the talking points above involving supporting cast and coach. Every situation is different, making the statistics of others from similar draft slots both relevant and simply background information to consider.

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Still, the excitement around Mahomes is bordering on creating a no-win proposition. Unless the former Texas Tech star is an immediate and unqualified success, he will be looked upon as a failure. There should always be a built-in understanding that failure is a prerequisite for a young quarterback in the NFL, regardless of circumstance. Outliers are there as they always are, but to expect that is the folly of a fool.

Mahomes has all the talent and support to be great. Unfortunately, he’s working on a shortened timeline, with expectations at a fever pitch.