The NFL Draft is an event of hope and optimism, a struggling team can turn into perennial Super Bowl favorites in the online sportsbook, and it all starts with the quarterback. The NFL QB might be the most challenging position in sports.
Teams will try for years to draft a franchise quarterback. Sometimes it comes in the first round, or even in the sixth round, in the case of Tom Brady. In this series, we will look at the QB draft history of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 21st century and see how the pick’s career in the NFL turned out.
The story of the Chiefs is a perfect example of how much of an impact a great draft pick can have on the organization. Kansas City was a historic franchise but had fallen on hard times and could not find playoff success.
Now, after finding a quarterback in the draft, the Chiefs have been to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning one, and are on track to be in contention for the next decade. Let’s see how they got there.
Brodie Croyle (2006)
With many veteran quarterbacks starting for the Kansas City Chiefs in the early 2000s, the team held off on drafting a QB until the Chiefs selected Alabama’s Brodie Croyle in the third round of the 2006 NFL draft. The University of Alabama is one of the most decorated football schools in the nation.
Still, the college has had a turbulent history when it comes to generating NFL talent at the quarterback position, and Croyle is a prime example.
After spending his entire rookie season as a backup, Croyle started six games for an injured Damon Huard, going winless. The former Rolling Tide QB threw six touchdowns to six interceptions for 1,227 yards.
During his time in Kansas City, Croyle suffered shoulder and knee injuries while starting ten NFL games. He lost everyone.
Croyle is regarded as one of the worst quarterbacks in franchise history. He is the only Chiefs QB to start more than three games and not win a game, and, since 1960, he is one of four NFL players to have at least ten career starts at quarterback and not win a game.
In the storied history of the NFL franchise, no quarterback with ten or more starts has fewer passing yards or touchdowns than Croyle.
He signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2011 and was cut before the regular season. He then announced his retirement from the NFL in 2012.
Kevin Hogan (2016)
Maybe drafting Croyle scared the Chiefs because the team did not draft a quarterback who took an NFL snap until selecting Stanford QB Kevin Hogan in the 2016 NFL Draft.
However, Hogan never played for Kansas City as he was cut before the 2016 NFL regular season and immediately signed to the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad. In October of that year, he was moved up to the active roster.
Hogan did not start a game for Cleveland in 2016, but in NFL Week 7, he filled in for an injured Cody Kessler and finished the game completing 12 out of 24 passes for 100 yards and two interceptions. The young QB dazzled on the ground as well, rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Hogan did not make his first NFL start until NFL Week 6 of the 2017 season. Completing 54 percent of his passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in a loss to the Houston Texans, the game was the only start in Hogan’s NFL career. He suffered a rib injury in the losing effort and was inactive for the next three weeks.
Cleveland traded Hogan to the Washington Redskins in 2018, who then waived him in the last round of roster cuts. Picked up by the Denver Broncos, he stayed with the team through 2018 and re-signed in March 2019. However, he was released in August.
After spending the entire 2019 season as a free agent, Hogan signed with the Cincinnati Bengals to be on the practice squad in 2020. He was brought up to the active roster for one game but did not play. His contract expired after the season, and Hogan is currently a free agent heading into the 2021 NFL season.
Patrick Mahomes (2017)
If Chiefs fans were frustrated that their team was not drafting a quarterback in the first round, they now surely feel that it was worth the wait.
Kansas City selected Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes with the tenth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, and in his four NFL seasons, he has quickly become one of the best QBs in the league and an inspiration to kids around the world.
Sitting behind Alex Smith his rookie season, Mahomes made his NFL debut in NFL Week 17 against the Denver Broncos. With Smith resting for the playoffs.
Mahomes impressed in the 27-24 victory but did not put up numbers we would soon come to expect from him, completing 22 of his 35 passes for 284 yards with one interception.
In January 2018, Kansas City traded Smith to the Washington Redskins, and promoted Mahomes to starting quarterback. The move immediately improved the team’s Super Bowl odds, and the rest is history.
Mahomes burst onto the scene in 2018 and established himself as the future of the organization, throwing for a franchise-record 5,097 yards while finishing second in passing yards only to Ben Rothlisberger’s 5,129.
With 50 TDs, Mahomes became the first Chiefs quarterback to lead the league in passing touchdowns since Len Dawson did it in 1966. He led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and their third-straight AFC West title but lost 37-31 to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
Mahomes earned multiple awards for his historic 2018 season, including his first Pro Bowl and First-team All-Pro, and he became the first Chiefs player to be named NFL MVP.
Kansas City entered 2019 at the top of most Super Bowl odds, and they did not disappoint. Mahomes had another fantastic year, throwing for 4,031 yards and 26 touchdowns with five interceptions.
The numbers were significantly down from 2018, partly because the Chiefs would be winning most of their games convincingly, and head coach Andy Reid would often choose to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Kansas City cruised to 12-4 and won another AFC West division title. After being down 24-0 to the Houston Texans, the Chiefs completed a historic comeback in the divisional round and won the game 51-31, showcasing just how explosive the Chiefs offense could be.
After beating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship games, KC would face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. The 49ers had the lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Chiefs completed another comeback by scoring 21 points and won the Super Bowl 31-20.
The victory helped bettors worldwide cash in their winning NFL Super Bowl bets on the Chiefs. The Super Bowl odds favorite going in, Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP for throwing 286 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 29 yards and another touchdown.
Mahomes and the Chiefs continued their dominance in 2020, going 14-2 and earning the number one seed in the AFC. The Kansas City QB bettered his 2019 season, throwing for 4,740 yards, 38 touchdowns, and six interceptions.
The Chiefs returned to the Super Bowl after defeating the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills, securing their second straight AFC Championship. Although Mahomes suffered a concussion against the Browns and was knocked out of the game, veteran backup Chad Henne scrambled to secure the 22-17 victory.
Once again, Tom Brady seems to be Kansas City’s kryptonite, this time as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers soundly defeated the Chiefs 31-9. For the first time since Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback of the team, the Chiefs found themselves completely dominated on the field of play.
Despite the loss, the Chiefs are still the favorites in the NFL odds at +450, with Brady and the Buccaneers in second place at +600. With Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs offense is still the most electric in the NFL.
In 2020, Mahomes signed a massive contract extension of ten years, $477 million, including bonuses that could bring the contract’s total value to $503 million. Mahomes became the first athlete to sign a half-billion-dollar contract and signed with the Chiefs until 2031.
Kansas City continues to be one of the best teams in the NFL, and with Mahomes under contract for the next decade, they look to be at the top of the mountain for the foreseeable future.
The draft history of the Chiefs since 2000 is short, only drafting three QBs who played in the NFL, but they struck gold when drafting Mahomes. It is not hyperbole to say Mahomes could retire as the greatest quarterback of all time should he continue on his current path.
The drafting of Mahomes shows how important it is to scout, draft, and develop the right quarterback and how that work should pay off in the long run. The Chiefs are the model for what every NFL team is trying to do when they enter a draft with a need at the QB position.
Kansas City went from a potential playoff team to a Super Bowl favorite with one of the most dynamic offenses in NFL history solely because of the addition of Mahomes.
Alex Smith was successful with Kelce and Hill, but Mahomes took the team to the next level and is a rare talent. It is unreasonable for a team to expect to draft a talent like him every year.
Still, the quarterback is the most critical position in the NFL, and every struggling team is hoping to turn their franchise around by finding the next Patrick Mahomes through the NFL Draft.