Quarterbacks change fortunes in the NFL. Draft a great one, and you’re set for years. Pick a bust, and the team will be in the dumps for a long time. Find a way to replace a legend quickly, and the franchise can become a winner for decades. Former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton recently revealed that his former franchise tried to accomplish that last feat by drafting Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes in 2017. It didn’t work out, and Payton might still be coaching if it did.
Sean Payton says he was incredibly close to drafting Patrick Mahomes to replace Drew Brees
The Chicago Bears traded up to No. 2 in order to draft the first quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky. Teams took seven more players (Solomon Thomas, Leonard Fournette, Corey Davis, Jamal Adams, Mike Williams, Christian McCaffery, and John Ross) before the Kansas City Chiefs took Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes.
Some of those players have been OK in the NFL. But none of them have led their teams deep into the playoffs nearly every year and won a Super Bowl.
If Mahomes didn’t go No. 10 to Kansas City, he wouldn’t have sat in the Green Room much longer. Former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton joined the Fox NFL pregame show in Week 1 and revealed just how close Mahomes was to becoming a Saint:
When we evaluated [Mahomes], he was clearly an elite player. The best quarterback I’d ever seen on college tape. In the draft room, we pick 11, the Chiefs trade up to 10, ahead of us, to make that selection. Drew Brees was in the draft room that day … It wasn’t going to impact him, but I thought it was important he knew that we might be taking a quarterback right here.
While getting Mahomes to sit for a while and learn behind Drew Brees would have been franchise-changing for the Saints, it still worked out pretty well for Payton’s team. With the next pick, New Orleans took Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
That season, Lattimore won Defensive Rookie of the Year and is now a four-time Pro Bowler.
The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs crushed the New Orleans Saints’ QB dreams
What many NFL fans don’t remember about the Kansas City Chiefs taking Patrick Mahomes (ahead of Sean Payton and the Saints snagging him, apparently) is that the Chiefs actually picked 27th in 2017.
The No. 10 pick belonged to the Buffalo Bills.
The Chiefs traded the 27th and 91st picks in 2017, and their 2018 first-round pick to move up to 10. According to draft pick value charts, like that of analytics expert Warren Sharp, the Bills got the better of the deal.
After the fact, it’s easy to say that the Chiefs got the better end of the deal by far, picking Mahomes, who led the team to a Super Bowl title. However, upon closer examination, this is actually a fascinating trade that allowed Buffalo to build the team it has today.
With the Chief’s No. 27 pick, the team took All-Pro CB Tre’Davious White. The following year, stocked with draft picks, the team used the KC first-round pick to trade up and get now-starting LB Tremaine Edwards.
The Bills also used other picks to trade up to No. 7 and draft Josh Allen.
Sure, the Bills traded away Patrick Mahomes, but they ended up in a pretty good position after doing so. Now, Mahomes vs. Allen is one of the most intriguing battles in the NFL, and the Saints are scuffing along with Jameis Winston at quarterback.
Ah, what could have been?
Draft trades courtesy of NFL.com