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How Patrick Mahomes went from risky draft pick to MVP and Super Bowl QB

Jan 19, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates after beating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have been a franchise that has built bridges with the quarterback position. After Hall of Famer Len Dawson retired in 1975, Kansas City has made do at the position, starting more former 49ers players at the position than their own draft picks. In fact, prior to Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs had not selected a quarterback in the first round since Todd Blackledge in 1983 and had not won a game with a quarterback they drafted since 1987 (also Blackledge).

After their first AFC West championship since 2010 and their third playoff appearance in four tries, Andy Reid and the Chiefs traded up to the 10th overall pick in the draft to select Mahomes out of Texas Tech. It took a lot — two first-round picks and a third-round pick, but it was the type fat-tail move that the Chiefs, whose offense had been good but not elite under Alex Smith, needed to become an elite team in the AFC. As our analysis of the trade, which consisted of 15,000 simulations of rookie-contract wins above replacement values, the Chiefs trading up for Mahomes, because of the value and variance that a quarterback can offer, made it a smart move, with Mahomes’ current brilliance perfectly within the universe’s sample paths.

(WAR differential during the first four years of each of the draft pick’s career, simulated 15,000 times. Assuming Kansas City selects a quarterback at 10. We use a 25% discount rate for future picks.)

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