It’s safe to say Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has helped bring the franchise to a new level of success in his first four seasons as a pro, capped off by the team’s first Super Bowl title in 50 years back in February.
Fresh off of his second comeback win in Miami this year in Week 14, Mahomes has now defeated all 15 AFC opponents in his first 44 career starts and is set to face off with the New Orleans Saints for the first time on Sunday. That might not have been the case if not for a trade up in the 2017 NFL Draft.
This week Saints head coach Sean Payton detailed how talented he believed Mahomes to be during the pre-draft process three years ago and just how close the reigning NFC South champions were to drafting the Texas Tech product.
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Payton: Mahomes Was ‘Best QB I Had Ever Seen on Tape’
During his media availability on Wednesday, Payton was asked about what he saw in Mahomes coming into the league — and judging by his response, it’s probably fair to say he wouldn’t be opposed to having the Chiefs superstar on his sideline this weekend instead.
“I felt like it was the best quarterback I had ever seen on tape in a workout,” Payton told reporters on December 16, via The Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell. “I had done a lot of them to that point. You name it. I just thought he had that rare ability, and there was going to be a ton of upside. Man, he was real good in the meeting room. He processed the information extremely [well] — all those things you can’t see on video. That was just my instincts. I didn’t know for sure. But when the draft comes, you begin to think, ‘Well, there’s gotta be someone else that sees what I see.’
“It was one of those where I don’t know how many people had the grade on Patrick that we had,” Payton continued. “But I thought Andy [Reid] clearly would have with his background at the quarterback position. He would’ve seen, I think, the same things.”
Certainly, Reid and the Kansas City front office did, as then-general manager John Dorsey made the call to trade up 17 spots with the Buffalo Bills to draft Mahomes at No. 10 overall in exchange for the No. 27 and No. 91 picks, plus a 2018 first-rounder.
Payton, Saints ‘Would Have Taken Mahomes’
Now, it would be easy for any coach or executive drafting in that early-to-mid first-round range in 2017 to come on the record to validate their outlook on the now-MVP passer, but this isn’t the first time Payton has given his candid thoughts on Mahomes, either.
In an interview with the Dan Patrick Show back in April 2018, Payton confirmed that had the Saints’ actual pick, CB Marshon Lattimore, been selected at No. 10 overall or sooner, Mahomes likely would have been a Saint.
“We would have taken Mahomes,” Payton said, via Nola.com. “And had both of them been there, we would have taken Lattimore. We had the higher grade on the corner.”
Fortunately for Payton, things worked out well for New Orleans with Drew Brees still in the fold at 41 years old, helping lead the organization to four division titles and 10-plus win seasons in as many years since the Mahomes draft.
Lattimore, who has two Pro Bowl selections, the 2017 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award, 51 pass breakups and 9 interceptions to his name in 54 starts to date, will remain with the Saints through at least 2021 after the team picked up his fifth-year option (worth $10.24 million) back in March.
Mahomes on the other hand is slated to be in Kansas City through the end of his age 35 season in 2031 after signing a record-setting 10-year, $503 million extension this past summer.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!