Deciding on a quarterback of the future can be an incredibly difficult decision for NFL teams. Some are lucky enough to have a long term answer at the position, but many of the league’s squads do not.
During the 2017 NFL Draft, nine different teams had a shot to select Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. He would have been an upgrade for all of them. Here are the teams who passed on the QB, including who their general manager was, and the players they selected instead.
Cleveland Browns – GM Sashi Brown
At this point in their history, the Browns were mired in a years-long slump. They’ve often picked at the top of the draft, but selected in a way that left often teams very puzzled. As GM, Sashi Brown has kept the tradition alive.
The Browns had not had a true franchise quarterback on their team since the 1980s with Bernie Kosar. For some reason, though, they seemingly ran away from chances to draft one. The year before Brown even traded out of the first pick where he could have selected Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.
1st Selection – Myles Garrett
While the Browns chose not to select a quarterback, few teams blamed them. Available with the first pick was Myles Garrett, an edge rusher who was considered to be a no brainer.
And the pick has mostly shown itself to be a smart one. While Garrett has been a star whenever he’s been on the field, that hasn’t been as often as Cleveland would like. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and probably would have done the same in 2019 had he not been indefinitely suspended for an ugly helmet swinging incident.
Chicago Bears – GM Ryan Pace
Ryan Pace had become the Chicago Bears General Manger in 2015 and inherited Jay Cutler as his quarterback. Cutler was aging, though, and Pace wanted to put his own stamp on the team by selecting his own quarterback.
And he felt he had do some maneuvering in order to get his guy. The Browns were locked in on Garrett. The San Francisco 49ers didn’t want a QB either and traded their second overall pick to the Bears for additional draft compensation.
2nd Selection – Mitchell Trubisky
It seems that Pace and the Bears were locking in on a quarterback with the 2nd pick. It wasn’t Patrick Mahomes, though. And it wasn’t DeShaun Watson either, who had starred at Clemson and won a national championship.
The Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina, a player with big potential but limited experience. While he has generally been fine for Chicago, Watson has developed into a star for Houston and Mahomes has become a superstar for Kansas City. The Bears would probably like this one back.
San Francisco 49ers – GM John Lynch
The 2017 draft was the first run by San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch. The club had their eyes on Kirk Cousins in free agency and decided that they wouldn’t take a quarterback in the first round. Instead, they focused on a number of talented defensive players.
Lynch was delighted when the Bears offered extra draft capital in order to only move up one slot in the draft. For the 2nd pick, the Niners received the 3rd selection, two additional 3rd round picks and a 4th round pick.
3rd Selection – Solomon Thomas
One position where the rebuilding 49ers were kind of set was defensive end. The team had used two recent first-round picks on Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. They dipped into the defensive line well anyways, selecting Solomon Thomas from Stanford.
Thomas has not exactly been a bust for San Francisco, but he certainly hasn’t delivered the level of production one would hope from the 3rd overall pick. The Niners got their quarterback later that year after trading for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Jacksonville Jaguars – GM David Caldwell
Despite the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars went 3-13 in 2016 and fired Coach Gus Bradley during the year, their arrow was still pointing up.
The team had nailed the 2016 draft adding defensive stalwarts in Jalen Ramsay, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue. During the 2017 Draft, GM David Caldwell wouldn’t have to worry about a quarterback either after taking Blake Bortles 3rd overall in 2015. That being said, he hoped to improve the offense in multiple ways with 2017’s selections.
4th Selection – Leonard Fournette
The prevailing wisdom over the last few years was that you shouldn’t select a running back in the first 10 picks. The Cowboys went against that idea in 2016 when they selected Ezekiel Elliot 4th overall and struck gold.
So the idea became you can take a running back high if they were a generational talent. And LSU’s Leonard Fournette was thought to be a generational talent. The results for the halfback so far have been mixed, though 2019 was his best season.
Tennessee Titans – GM Jon Robinson
The Tennesee Titans were another team that wasn’t looking into drafting a quarterback in 2017. The team had drafted their franchise QB in Marcus Mariota in 2015. During the 2016 Draft, they selected offensive tackle Jack Conklin to protect their young leader.
NFL teams are often looking to get two things for a new franchise QB, a tackle and number one wide receiver. The Titans had grabbed Conklin to protect Mariota’s blindside, now GM Jon Robinson needed a game-breaking wideout.
5th Selection – Corey Davis
There were a number of good looking wide receiver prospects in the 2017 Draft. A total of six pass catchers would go in the first two rounds with three wideouts going in the first nine selections.
Corey Davis was the consensus top wide receiver prospect. While playing at Central Michigan, he set the NCAA all-time record for receiving yards. Despite somewhat of a breakout year in 2018, Davis has been somewhat underwhelming for the Titans.
New York Jets – GM Mike Maccagnan
While the New York Jets had some success with guys like Ken O’Brien, Chad Pennington, and Mark Sanchez, the club really hadn’t found a franchise signal-caller since the days of Joe Namath.
And after then GM Mike Maccagnan scouted the 2017 possibilities, he decided the team would not be taking a quarterback with his first-round selection. Todd Bowles was still relatively new as the Jets Head Coach and the team was looking to find him a star on defense.
6th Selection – Jamal Adams
Quarterbacks were not considered the top prospects in the 2017 draft. Myles Garrett stood alone as the top player in the draft and a likely star from day one. Right behind Garrett on many boards, was LSU safety Jamal Adams.
The Jets were stunned that Adams was available with the 6th pick and ran to the podium with their card. Adams has developed into a star and a leader for the Jets making the Pro Bowl in both 2018 and 2019.
Los Angeles Chargers – GM Tom Telesco
The Chargers weren’t accustomed to drafting in the top 10. The team also wasn’t interested in taking a quarterback as long-time starter Phillip Rivers was still entrenched as the team’s franchise quarterback.
The team, which was moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, did want to add more pieces to their offense. GM Tom Telesco knew the 7th pick offered a good possibility to do so as the draft was chock full of good wide receiver and running back prospects.
7th Selection – Mike Williams
The Chargers, who were focused on the offensive side of the ball, were thrilled to select wide receiver Mike Williams from Clemson. Williams had spent plenty of time on the National scene playing alongside DeShaun Watson.
Williams didn’t do much during his rookie year. He suffered a back injury in training camp and lost plenty of valuable time. The wide out had a breakout season in 2018, though, and has since proven to be a reliable down field threat.
Carolina Panthers – GM Dave Gettleman
The 2016 Carolina Panthers were supposed to be one of the top teams in the NFL. During the 2015 season, the team, led by quarterback Cam Newton, had made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
The team had a terrible season in 2016, though, and had only finished 6-10. On the bright side, the Panthers and then GM Dave Gettleman had a real shot at improving the team. To do so, Gettleman had his eyes on a running back.
8th Selection – Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey was an electrifying player for the Stanford Cardinals and put up an incredible 3,864 all-purpose yards during the 2016 season. He also came from great bloodlines as his father, Ed, had been a long-time receiver in the league.
While some teams would have hesitated to take a running back with the 8th selection in the draft, the Panthers were not deterred. Dave Gettleman was fired by the team months after making this pick, but McCaffrey has become a major star for Carolina.
Cincinnati Bengals – GM Mike Brown
The 2017 Cincinnati Bengals had something that is often the hallmark of successful teams, continuity. Marvin Lewis was entering into his 15th season as the team’s coach and owner/GM Mike Brown had been around for a while as well.
The team had also been successful for much of the last 10 years and had an effective quarterback in Andy Dalton. The Bengals did not have a great year in 2016, but things could get better if they hit it big in the draft.
9th Selection – John Ross
Every year there are multiple players that seriously raise their draft profile with a stunning combine performance. John Ross, a wide receiver from Washington, moved himself into the top 10 once he blazed a 4.22-second 40-yard dash.
Ross has mostly been a disaster for the Bengals. He spent much of his 2017 season as a healthy scratch. 2018 wasn’t much better. Ross had his best season in 2019 catching 28 balls for 506 yards in only 8 games.
Kansas City Chiefs – GM Brett Veach
The Kansas City Chiefs were not expecting to select this high in the 2017 draft. After a 12-4 season in 2016, the team was slated to have the 27th overall selection but made a trade with Buffalo for the 10th pick.
The Chiefs had Alex Smith at quarterback who was not only a Pro-Bowler, but was also still in his prime. Coach Andy Reid was new to Kansas City, though, and GM Brett Veach was brand new. Both took the opportunity to make a splash.
10th Selection – Patrick Mahomes
There were plenty of teams that didn’t have a quarterback in place and neglected to select Mahomes or DeShaun Watson. The Chiefs did have a high-quality QB in place and decided to take Mahomes anyway.
The team has been richly rewarded for the decision. Mahomes and Andy Reid have been a match made in heaven. The young signal-caller was the league’s MVP in 2019 and took home his first Super Bowl trophy in 2020 at just 23 years old.