Patrick Mahomes was as aware of his pre-draft critics more than anyone on the planet. Mahomes, who had just completed a prolific career at Texas Tech, addressed those criticisms head-on in an open letter to the NFL prior to being drafted.
Mahomes’ open letter, which was published by “The Players’ Tribune” on the morning of the start of the 2017 NFL Draft, brought to light the following doubts that were circulating regarding his future potential as a pro quarterback:
“He plays in the Air Raid offense. Can he take snaps under center? What about audibles?”
“Does he really have the discipline to make it as a quarterback in the NFL?”
Instead of dodging those questions, Mahomes attacked them. He wrote about how he had learned to “lead an offense” during his time with the Red Raiders, an intangible that can’t be measured during a combine or pro day. Mahomes also stressed how he had improved “in each major category” each season during his college career.
“Everything that critics want to knock me on, I know I can fix with hard work,” he wrote. “I am not a project quarterback. People who say that aren’t really watching my tape. I know that I can make any throw, especially when my team needs a big play.”
Mahomes acknowledged that he wasn’t and wouldn’t be perfect moving forward. He said that he missed throws during the NFL Combine, and it’s possible that he did not answer every team’s questions to their liking. But he hoped that teams could see that each of his answers were sincere. Mahomes also reiterated the fact that he took accountability for any mistake he made on the football field while at Texas Tech.
“I may make mistakes along the way,” Mahomes wrote. “And I won’t win every single game I play during my career. I won’t retire with a perfect passer rating or zero career interceptions. But I’ll try as hard as anybody.”
Mahomes didn’t have to convince the Chiefs and head coach Andy Reid, who selected him with the 10th overall pick. Mahomes was the second quarterback selected; the Chicago Bears drafted current Steelers’ backup Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.
After spending his rookie year observing veteran Alex Smith, Mahomes took the league by storm in his second season. He won league MVP after having one of the most prolific seasons for a quarterback in league annals. Mahomes led the Chiefs to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title the following season while becoming the first player to win league and Super Bowl MVP honors before his 25th birthday.