In a world of non-stop comparisons between players, one of the most interesting examples of modern sports is Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. While they didn’t forge identical paths to NFL glory, their play styles combined with aspects of their stories make the comparisons more compelling. Mahomes recently discussed these connections.
Patrick Mahomes’ NFL career
Mahomes was a star quarterback at Texas Tech before joining the NFL. In three years, he went from a promising young QB who started a handful of games to a bonafide star. In 2015, his sophomore year, Mahomes threw for 4,653 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. The next year, he did even better, throwing for over 5,000 yards, 41 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. This got him on the Chiefs’ radar; they selected him with the 10th overall pick.
Mahomes spent his rookie season primarily relegated to the bench. Ironically, the quarterback ahead of him, Alex Smith, was the 49ers’ pick over Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 Draft. Mahomes sat in all but one game that year, but it was a valuable season that let him get the hang of the offense before getting thrown into the lion’s den. The next year, everything changed.
Mahomes didn’t just come out like gangbusters in 2018. He played like a seasoned superstar. He led the Chiefs to the top of the NFL standings and won the MVP Award. The Chiefs came up short, but Mahomes was only 22 and ready to shine even brighter. After some regression as far as individual stats, Mahomes won the Super Bowl at just 23 years old, securing comebacks in several of the games along the way.
Aaron Rodgers comparisons
Rodgers had a longer path to stardom, but it was still quite comparable to Mahomes’ rise in many ways. Rodgers didn’t enter the college ranks as an ace. In fact, he started at community college before entering the national stage at Cal. At Cal, Rodgers was immediately one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions during his first year. After one more year, he was ready for the NFL.
Rodgers saw 23 people take the stage before him in the 2005 NFL Draft. Afterward, he had to wait even longer than Mahomes, watching an aging Brett Favre lead the Packers from the bench. Then, in 2008, Rodgers finally got the starting role over Favre. He did not see the same initial success in terms of wins and losses, but that didn’t matter, his stardom was apparent in his first game.
By 2009, Rodgers was a bonafide star, and by 2011, he was an All-Pro Super Bowl Champion, an MVP, and one of the brightest young faces in the NFL. Rodgers’ career took some patience but ultimately paid off. While Mahomes had a shorter ride in college and as a professional, he can continue to look at Rodgers’ career for guidance.
Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers?
Mahomes and Rodgers may be in direct competition, but Mahomes still considers himself a fan of Rodgers, according to USA Today. In April, he took to Twitter to praise a throw that didn’t count from 2014 after the NFL posted it on their site. More recently, he said he models his game after the two-time MVP.
Mahomes is halfway there when it comes to MVPs and already matched Rodgers’ Super Bowl victory at just 24, but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to match his overall career. Part of Rodgers’ story is his longevity. There are few quarterbacks who perform as well as he does under pressure. However, when things don’t go well, Rodgers is often the only thing keeping the Packers afloat.
Mahomes has had about as good a first three years as one can expect. However, his career is likely to have some pitfalls, and when it does, that’s when he can prove that he’s Rodgers’ heir apparent.