After having three-time All-Pro Tyreek Hill as his No. 1 wide receiver since becoming a starting quarterback, there’s been much discussion this offseason about how Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will perform moving forward without Hill.
The rest of the NFL’s thoughts on the matter are most evident in a recent survey done by ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, who ranked the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL for 2022 after speaking with executives, players, and coaches around the league. Fowler explained the process behind ranking the quarterbacks:
“Voters gave us their best 10 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, hundreds of interviews, research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen,” Fowler wrote on July 11. “In total, more than 50 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with our rankers.”
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Where Mahomes Ranks, NFL’s Thoughts on KC’s QB
Mahomes was ranked second overall among the quarterbacks on the top 10 list, with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ranked No. 1 overall. This was the first time in three years that Mahomes was not ranked at the top of the list.
Fowler shared some nuggets from anonymous NFL executives regarding their thoughts on Mahomes not having Hill anymore.
“I’m not worried about Patrick,” an NFC exec told Fowler. “He’s proven himself. When you have an elite quarterback, you can lose pieces around you and still make it work. [Hill] is just a receiver.”
Another executive gave praise to the adjustments Mahomes has made, specifically during the 2021 season when defenses changed the way they defended him, along with the adversity he has overcome in years prior as well.
“He’s had to evolve in that way, and I think long term it will be good for him,” an anonymous executive told Fowler. “There did appear to be a hangover from the Super Bowl, and [the Buccaneers] showed you can get pressure on [the Chiefs] and make things difficult for him, make him scramble around and cover the deep ball. He doesn’t always want to check it down. But he’s good enough to overcome all of that and just has a special ability to make plays.”
So, it appears that even though Mahomes no longer has one of the most dangerous pass-catchers in NFL history on his team, at least some of the other NFL teams believe that Mahomes will still have success moving forward.
‘Keystone’ Veteran Projected as Chiefs’ 2022 Non-QB MVP
With several elite playmakers on the team, it’s not easy to project who will be Kansas City’s most valuable player outside of the quarterback position for the 2022 season. But one analyst took a stab at it.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com projected the non-QB MVP for every NFL team for the 2022 NFL season and predicted that Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones will be the winner of the award for the reigning AFC West champions.
“With the offense breaking in new faces, let’s look at the defensive side of the ball,” Patra wrote on July 7. “Jones is the keystone player for the Chiefs’ D. After the failed experiment with the DT on the edge last season, Jones proved how vital he is in wrecking opposing offenses from the interior down the stretch as the K.C. defense coalesced.
“Since 2018, Jones ranks second among all interior linemen with 41.0 sacks and 257 pressures, behind only Aaron Donald. The Chiefs continue to have questions at edge rusher, making Jones’ presence much more vital. The 27-year-old owns the potential to be a game-wrecking difference-maker in a rugged AFC West.”
To add to the accolades already mentioned by Patra, Jones has earned Pro Bowl nods in three consecutive seasons, and last season he was the Chiefs’ highest-graded defensive player, according to PFF (83.4).
The only other non-QB that had a strong case to be named the projected MVP for the 2022 season was tight end Travis Kelce. Players such as linebacker Nick Bolton and safety Justin Reid could also have cases made for them. But Kansas City’s defense would be in a much worse situation if they didn’t have Jones in the trenches as opposed to Kelce on offense. So, Jones is the rightful projected winner of the award.