The offseason couldn’t have started much better for Pat Mahomes, as the Chiefs announced that they were shipping Alex Smith off to the Redskins and handing the starting QB job to their young signal caller. As great as his opportunity appeared to be, it got a whole lot better on the first day of free agency.
No, the Chiefs didn’t go on a spending spree to add a bunch of weapons or offensive linemen. Instead, they added just a single skill position player- Sammy Watkins.
Many will be unimpressed by a player who played in 15 games with the Rams last season, but failed to reach 600 yards while posting his lowest yards per reception since his rookie year. Others will talk about a player who’s struggled to stay healthy with foot injuries during the majority of his first three years in the league.
Despite those concerns, there are a couple important takeaways from last season. First off, his foot wasn’t an issue last year, so there’s no rational reason to expect that the injury will be an issue in 2018. The second takeaway is much more compelling and requires that one watched film of the Rams’ 2017 offense closely. Film conclusively showed that Watkins was consistently blowing away defenders downfield. Unfortunately for Watkins, the structure of the team’s offense frequently had Jared Goff throwing to his first option, which was often Robert Woods, who was frequently lined up to Goff’s right. My point is simple- Watkins was a dominant force last year despite not having numbers to support it.
Now back to Mahomes– He now has two WRs who can both beat defenses deep in Watkins and Tyreek Hill. Hill has the type of speed that terrifies defenses while Watkins profiles as potentially one of the elite WRs in the NFL and can beat CBs in many different ways. With defenses facing this impossible WR duo, it’s a stretch to think that teams will have the manpower do also deal with Travis Kelce. Throw in Kareem Hunt, who excels as both a runner and receiver, and this is profiling as an unstoppable set of weapons. Mahomes should see potential mismatches with regularity and he also has the ability to make plays with his feet.
Need one more reason to love him? The Chiefs’ defense continues to get older and it’s very likely that they’ll have plenty of struggles to slow down opponents, which certainly could lead to plenty of shootouts, and Mahomes could find himself in position to be a strong QB1 in his first full year under center.