Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes could be ... no, should be ... a first-round draft pick next month. But there's something he must accomplish first, and that something is to convince prospective employers that he can ... and will ... be OK in a pro system.
You see, like other Texas Tech quarterbacks, Mahomes played in a spread offense that hasn't translated into producing pro quarterbacks, with former Tech stars like Kliff Kingsbury, Graham Harrell and B.J. Symons falling by the wayside.
So convincing NFL clubs that he can operate outside the spread was Mahome's goal at last weekend's scouting combine, as it will be leading up to the April 27 NFL draft.
"Yeah, definitely," Mahomes said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. "It's a perception I have to break. It's going to be a knock on me that I came from a spread system. But If you watch the NFL nowadays a lot of teams have gone to the spread a lot more, as well, (and) I've really been working on my footwork and everything like that. to make sure I break that mold.
"That's really something where I want to be that guy who breaks the mold for everybody else to get into the league and do their thing. I mean, it's something I work on every single day, knowing that people have those doubts and knowing that I have to break it."
Mahomes, a two-year starter at Tech, led the nation in passing in 2016 and was named winner of the Sammy Baugh award, a trophy given annually to the country's leading collegiate quarterback. A star pitcher who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2014, he's the son of former major-league pitcher Pat Mahomes and resisted the temptation to follow his father's career path.
"It was a hard decision, definitely," he said. "I loved baseball coming out for sure. but when I started playing football I really fell for the game fast and hard, and I wanted to see where it took me.
"I had only been playing varsity quarterback two years, knew I could get a lot better and knew coach (Kliff) Kingsbury was going to make me to be the best quarterback I could be. (So) I said, 'Let's do it. Let's go play football.' And it was the best decision I ever made. I really just got after it, and I've gotten better and better each year and hope to get better as I go."
So what makes it more attractive than baseball?
"Just the challenges facing a quarterback, having all that pressure on you, having the chance to win or lose a football game," he said. "I mean, I love that stuff. I love being the guy who has to command the team and being the guy who has to win on the team, That's something that I just always loved since I was a little kid."