The Kansas City Chiefs shocked the football world by shipping quarterback Alex Smith to Washington in exchange for the Redskins' third-round pick and Kendall Fuller - a talented 22-year-old cornerback who is coming off a very good year and excels in covering out of the slot.
The transaction itself is terrific for the Chiefs, but more than anything, it shows the confidence they have in Patrick Mahomes II. Moving all the way up from the 27th to the 10th pick to secure the quarterback in last year's draft was certainly a gamble - and cost Kansas City its first-round pick in 2018 - but that gamble is about to pay off.
Mahomes played behind a putrid offensive line in college but lived (and thrived) out of structure. He is a natural and extreme playmaker who is a very good athlete and possesses rare arm talent, which he uses in highly unconventional ways and without hesitation. We have seen very few quarterback prospects like Mahomes in recent memory.
A year has passed since he was drafted and Kansas City obviously has seen a lot of Mahomes in practice, the meeting rooms, interactions with his teammates, preseason games where he played very well, and even in Week 17 in Denver, where he was also quite impressive, albeit up-and-down, against a strong defense.
With Smith and Mahomes so different in terms of their risk-taking tendencies and physical attributes, you would think Kansas City would have to totally change its offense as it hands the reigns over to its new signal-caller. Some changes will be made and the way the quarterback executes within the scheme will be very different. But this is a system that should suit Mahomes well.
Reid is rightfully thought of as one of the pillars of the West Coast offense and has been successful in blending the old Bill Walsh principles with the extremely prevalent spread system that we see at the college level. It was many years before Mahomes came out of the Texas Tech spread college system, but Smith was one of the first top NFL prospects to enter the league after playing his college ball in such an attack.
Many spread systems in college allow for easy throws, and while Mahomes executed those well at that level, he also regularly showed what he is capable of to all areas of the field. With a year under his belt, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense should go together well and make for a reasonably smooth transition from the veteran to the youngster.
Kansas City may also be in a position to land Mahomes one more offensive asset, either through free agency (swapping Smith for Fuller freed up about $16 million in cap space) or on the draft’s second day, preferably at wide receiver and/or guard.
Chiefs fans should be very excited about the transformation their team is in the midst of. Mahomes may not immediately play to the level Smith did in 2017, but the gunslinger is going to complete passes his predecessor couldn't dream of making, and as he matures, defending him in this system is going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Matt Williamson is a former scout for the Cleveland Browns and spent 10 years at ESPN as a scout and co-host of "The Football Today Podcast." Find him on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL.
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