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Drafted 10th, which teams regret passing on QB Patrick Mahomes most?

Pondering what might have been as Chiefs’ star preps for 5th season as starter
Patrick Mahomes
Posted at 10:10 AM, Aug 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 11:10:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not surprisingly, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes boasts the highest weighted Career Approximate Value among all players from the 2017 NFL Draft class, according to Pro Football Reference.

Mahomes won NFL MVP and AP Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2018, his first full season as a starter, and led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in a half-century the next season.

Mahomes, who played only one game as a rookie, clearly has been the class of the 2017 draft.

Kansas City has hosted the AFC Championship Game in all four seasons with Mahomes as its starter, reaching the Super Bowl twice and losing the other two conference title games in overtime.

The Chiefs hadn’t ever hosted an AFC Championship Game prior to Mahomes’ arrival.

Certainly, Mahomes landed in a terrific situation. He was able to learn from Alex Smith, which eased his transition into the NFL, and play for Andy Reid, one of the greatest offensive minds in NFL history.

But how big of a mistake did the nine teams who passed on Mahomes make five years ago?

Glad you asked. Here’s a rundown of who the teams ahead of the Chiefs selected, what those teams’ quarterback situations were at the time and how much regret those teams have now that Mahomes is entrenched as one of the top QBs in the league:

2017 NFL Draft analysis

No. 1 Cleveland — DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Garrett’s Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 51 (6th)

2017 starting QBs (record): DeShone Kizer (0-15), Kevin Hogan (0-1)

Analysis: Garrett was considered the safest pick in the draft and the Browns had so many holes to fill, it’s hard to argue with the selection. He’s missed some games, but he’s also been productive with 58 1/2 sacks in 68 career games when available.

Cleveland snagged Baker Mayfield with the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after going winless in 2017. He was shipped out this off-season after a trade for Deshaun Watson, so it’s fair to wonder if Mahomes would have been a better choice than Garrett.

It’s also fair to wonder if Mahomes would have enjoyed the same success playing for the moribund Browns and their revolving door of mediocre coaches.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (3)

No. 2 Chicago — QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina

Trubisky’s Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 33 (t-22nd)

2017 starting QBs (record): Trubisky (4-8), Mike Glennon (1-3)

Analysis: Perhaps no fan base laments the 2017 draft more than the Bears, who not only took Trubisky over Mahomes and Watson, who went No. 12 to Houston, but traded up to do so in a deal that unraveled the team’s front office over time.

Highsight is 20/20, but plenty of Chicago fans have yearned to see Mahomes suit up at Soldier Field in recent years. Now, the Bears are banking on Justin Fields and a new front office/coaching staff to restore the franchise to glory, but the Mahomes regret will never be erased.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (5)

No. 3 San Francisco — DE Solomon Thomas, Oregon

Thomas’ Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 16 (t-76th)

2017 starting QBs (record): Brian Hoyer (0-6), Jimmy Garoppolo (5-0), CJ Beathard (1-4)

Analysis: The 49ers traded for Garoppolo midseason in 2017 and he immediately became the only viable option at QB, if you’re wondering about the team’s quarterback situation at the time of the draft.

It’s not that Jimmy G has been awful. He helped San Fran reach Super Bowl LIV — and lose to Kansas City — but he’s also been underwhelming and injury-prone despite a glossy 31-14 record as the 49ers’ starter.

Despite that team success, Jimmy G’s on the way out, having been replaced by Trey Lance as the starter for Kyle Shannahan’s squad this offseason.

Meanwhile, Thomas provided a paltry six sacks in 48 games before leaving via free agency last season.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (5)

No. 4 Jacksonville — RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

Fournette’s Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 32 (t-26th)

2017 starting QBs (record): Blake Bortles (10-6)

Analysis: Bortles would lead the Jags to the AFC Championship Game during the 2017 season after wandering the NFL abyss during his first three seasons in the league.

It’s easy to assume Jacksonville, given the franchise’s history, made a colossal blunder here, but that’s a bit too revisionist. Many people expected Fournette to be a transcendent talent.

Still, taking a running back in the top five isn’t a great decision in the modern NFL and there’s little doubt Mahomes would have provided the Jags more than Fournette did.

Bortles lasted one more year, going 3-9 in 2018 before he was cut. After a brief stint with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, Bortles’ time in the NFL came to an unceremonious end.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (3)

No. 5 Tennessee — WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan

Davis’ Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 28 (t-33rd)

2017 starting QBs (record): Marcus Mariota (9-6), Matt Cassel (0-1)

Analysis: Mariota was a star at Oregon and widely considered a safe bet for a solid NFL career. It didn’t work out that way, but he did lead the Titans to the playoffs in 2017 — sorry, Chiefs fans! Too soon?

It wasn’t a bad decision to get Mariota some help, given that he had two years left on his rookie deal — really three, depending on how you factor in the fifth-year option.

But there shouldn’t be any doubt that Mahomes represents an upgrade over Mariota and his successor, Ryan Tannehill.

Davis was a serviceable player for Tennessee in his four seasons there, but he wasn’t even good enough to keep around on a fifth-year option. That’s not a good look for a top-five pick for any organization, but it was an understandable decision.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (3)

No. 6 New York Jets — S Jamal Adams, LSU

Adams’ Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 42 (t-11th)

2017 starting QBs (record): Josh McCown (5-8), Bryce Petty (0-3)

Analysis: Quarterback is the most important position in team sports, so from that standpoint whiffing on selecting Mahomes is facepalm-worthy.

Still, Adams became an All-Pro safety for the Jets before he got fed up with the team and forced his way out of town via trade. That’s probably not the trajectory Mahomes’ career would have taken in the Big Apple.

Maybe Zach Wilson, who the Jets turned to last season after snagging him with the No. 2 overall pick, will become a Super Bowl champion QB and MVP-caliber player in the league, but his 55.6% completion percentage and 9-to-11 TD-to-INT ratio as a rookie don’t suggest he’s a star in the making.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (2)

No. 7 Chargers — WR Mike Williams, Clemson

Williams’ Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 30 (29th)

2017 starting QBs (record): Philip Rivers (9-7)

Analysis: Rivers was coming off a Pro Bowl season and had two more quality seasons in the tank with the Chargers, so it’s understandable that quarterback wasn’t a priority.

William has emerged as a fantastic weapon — first for Rivers and now for Justin Herbert — with two 1,000-yard campaigns in his first five NFL seasons. He also led the league in average yards per reception in 2019 and is coming off a career year.

Passing on Mahomes in this situation wasn’t a mistake, so the Chargers get a pass.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 0

No. 8 Carolina — RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

McCaffrey’s Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 45 (t-7th)

2017 starting QBs (record): Cam Newton (11-5)

Analysis: Newton had started to show signs of breaking down by the 2016 season, but he was only two years removed from an NFL MVP campaign and Super Bowl appearance.

As it turns out, Newton was heading into his final productive season with the Panthers, but it wasn’t a bad gamble to pair the massive QB with one of the most dynamic running backs to enter the NFL in recent years.

Injuries have caught up with both Newton and McCaffrey during recent seasons, but the logic is hard to criticize.

As bad as Carolina’s quarterback situation has been since Newton fell apart in 2018-19, it’s hard to point to passing on Mahomes as a significant turning point for the team.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️ (1)

No. 9 Cincinnati — WR John Ross, Washington

Ross’ Career Approximate Value (Draft class rank): 7 (t-133rd)

2017 starting QBs (record): Andy Dalton (7-9)

Analysis: It has worked out fine in the end after the Bengals landed Joe Burrow, but the rebuild could have been sped up with the selection of Mahomes three years earlier.

Dalton would go 14-26 as the Bengals’ starter during the next three seasons (2017-19), while backup QB AJ McCarron never started a game for Cincinnati before moving on to Oakland (now Las Vegas) and Houston.

The Bengals were coming off a 6-9-1 season, but Dalton had led the franchise to nine wins or more in each of his five NFL seasons before that. He’d never sniff that again, but Ross proved to be a wasted pick and Mahomes is probably lucky his first few NFL seasons weren’t similarly wasted in Cincy.

Regret level (out of five facepalms): 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ (4)