Only minutes after boldly trading up to choose quarterback Patrick Mahomes II in the first round of the NFL draft, Chiefs coach Andy Reid walked into a cramped interview room and explained that his new young protégé might be a couple of years from contributing.
He also was confident that the upside Mahomes brings to the Chiefs was worthwhile.
It was an assessment Reid could easily have made about their day two selections, a raw defensive end out of Villanova and a record-setting running back out of Toledo.
Tanoh Kpassagnon and Kareem Hunt may be counted on to provide more next season than Mahomes, but the true value of the two picks might not be realized until they have a year or two in the league.
“Where we are with the team right now, the coaches that we have in place and our ability to coach different positions, I think you can do these types of things,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said.
There are commonalities between each of the Chiefs’ first three selections.
They all fill a considerable need, now and in the future. They all play positions where making an impact is easily gauged. And they all arrive in Kansas City with a chip on their shoulders.
Mahomes is coming from an Air Raid offense that has yet to produce any NFL stars, and will try to buck the notion that he’s merely a system quarterback.
But his makeup and moxie has already earned him comparisons to another protégé of Reid during his days in Green Bay — Brett Favre — and his big arm and gaudy numbers have Chiefs fans energized after years of quarterback mediocrity.
“It’s just going to be about me coming in and working as hard as I can,” Mahomes said during his introductory news conference Friday.
“As a quarterback, your job is to come in and just contribute to the team any way possible. If that’s just getting great practice reps, just help the team any way you can, that’s the thing I’m going to try and come in here and do.”
Incumbent quarterback Alex Smith has already reached out to Mahomes, vowing to help him any way possible. Smith is firmly entrenched as the starter this season, but beyond that is anyone’s guess.
Smith would have another year on his contract, but could be released inexpensively.
“We knew that we were interested in Patrick and if the opportunity came along for us to get him, it was something we wanted to do,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said. “The chance to get a quarterback who can be a franchise quarterback for the Chiefs in the future made it a pretty easy decision.”
Kpassagnon only played a few years of organized football before heading off to Villanova, where he slowly turned himself into one of the Football Championship Subdivision’s top edge rushers.
But it was during the Senior Bowl and the NFL’s scouting combine where he really jumped up draft boards — once scouts got a chance to see him against other pro-level talent.
“I’ve never really been heavily recruited,” he said, alluding to the chip he carries on his own shoulder. “At Villanova, we didn’t play in front of thousands of fans like a lot of other big-school guys. We just played because we loved it. And we loved each other.”
Hunt could hardly contain his excitement when he was chosen late Friday, saying on a 1-to-10 scale of happiness that he was at a “20.” And there are plenty of reasons for it, too.
He bounced back from a poor 2015 season to show last year he was an elite talent. He proved that a mid-major talent could make his dreams come true. And he landed in an ideal spot in Kansas City, where he will share the load with Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and C.J. Spiller out of the gate.
“I’m going to make the most of each and every carry I get,” Hunt said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team get the win, even if it’s playing special teams.”
The Chiefs continued to bolster their roster in the final three rounds Saturday:
— No. 139 Jehu Chesson, WR, 6-3, 204, Michigan. The Chiefs traded two of their fifth-round picks to Minnesota to jump back into the fourth round, where they added a fast, rangy playmaker who could help a wide receiver group that underwhelmed last season.
— No. 183 Ukeme Eligwe, LB, 6-2, 234, Georgia Southern. With stalwart Derrick Johnson coming back from a second ruptured Achilles tendon and nearing the end of his career, the Chiefs took a late-round chance at finding a replacement. Eligwe started his career at Florida State, where he was dismissed for a violation of team rules, and left school with a year of eligibility remaining.
— No. 218 Leon McQuay III, S, 6-2, 185, USC. McQuay was an honorable mention all-Pac 12 in his senior season.