INDIANAPOLIS – The Buffalo Bills could have had Patrick Mahomes last year.
Instead, the team traded the 10th overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs, in return moving down to the No. 27 slot in the first round and adding a 2018 first-round pick, as well. The Chiefs snagged Mahomes, the Texas Tech quarterback, with that 10th pick, while the Bills did well to land cornerback Tre'Davious White at No. 27. They also have the 22nd overall pick this year, to go along with their No. 21 selection.
Given their long-standing need at quarterback, though, it's natural for Bills fans to keep an eye on Mahomes' career. Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach made it clear at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday that they have sky-high hopes for their second-year quarterback.
"From the day Patrick stepped on the field, in the rookie minicamp, the OTAs, the training camps, he has always 'wowed' us," Veach said. "He has a lot to learn yet. I think he grew tremendously. But having watched him day in and day out, take to the studying, take to working on his craft, he did a good job."
The Chiefs have been so impressed with Mahomes, they're turning the offense over to him. Last year's starter, Alex Smith, will be traded to Washington in a couple weeks when the new league year starts.
"We had a plan for Patrick and that was to come in, learn the offense, and not go out there and play until you have a firm mental trap of what you want to accomplish," Veach said. "All the physical tools are there. He is one of the best players I have ever seen."
That's high praise considering Mahomes has one career start. If Mahomes ends up being a franchise quarterback, it won’t look good for the Bills, but so far coach Sean McDermott isn’t regretting his team’s decision.
“I'm sure Mahomes is going to have a heck of a career and what not, but when you can move back and pick up a pick that is positioned to us at this point and you have a young man that's played as well as Tre'Davious has this point of his career, you feel good about it,” he said. “I think you learn again from everything. I'm a big believer in that. You learn from what's gone on before you that sometimes you don't have to move or sometimes you do have to move. Can you get a guy in the top 10? Or do you have to go to the top five?
“I don't know, honestly, that there's an exact answer every year, because every situation is different. It's like game management in situational football. Everything's just a little bit different from one year to the next. … I felt like, just in terms of adding Tre'Davious, that was a good move for us.”
Bills fans are all too familiar with how quarterback Nathan Peterman’s first career start went. They might not know that Peterman’s first college start wasn’t much better.
As a redshirt freshman at Tennessee, he went 4 of 11 with two interceptions in a game at Florida, suffering a broken hand in the process. Peterman, however, put that behind him and went on to have a successful college career after transferring to Pitt.
“Something about that kid is he never lets it get to him. He's a tough-minded, strong kid,” Panthers offensive tackle Brian O'Neill said Thursday. “It's all about the process and getting better and being able to work those ups and downs through. He's a mature kid so something like that isn't going to get in his head. He's going to continue to be Nate, continue to be a great guy, he's going to continue to prepare well. At least that's my experience with him and knowing him as a person and as a friend. I've seen a bunch of quarterbacks. I think he's right up there with the best of them.”
Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco, who grew up in Hamburg and attended St. Francis High School, talked up new Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, a Jamestown native who last year worked as Los Angeles' wide receivers coach.
"He's an excellent coach. Very detailed. Very smart," Telesco said. "He works great with the players and knows offense very well. I knew at some point that he would be a coordinator at this level. I was hoping it would be a little later down the line for our sake, because we're a little selfish, but for him, he's earned it. The Colts got a great football coach, and a great person, too."
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, the Bills' former offensive coordinator and interim head coach, also lamented losing Sirianni to Frank Reich's staff.
"I knew he was going to be an O.C. I was really planning on losing Nick," Lynn said. "I was surprised the call came so late. Nick's a heck of a coach. He's going to be a great offensive coordinator for Frank. He works his tail off. I enjoyed working with him. he's just a good, solid man."
To replace Sirianni, the Chargers hired Phil McGeoghan, who held the same job last season with the Bills.