Why I picked QB Patrick Mahomes for the Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes is a gunslinger (0:41)

Quarterbacks who ran the Air Raid offense in college haven't had much success in the NFL, but Mel Kiper Jr. thinks Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes can be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL with some work. (0:41)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have neglected a serious attempt at finding a long-term solution at quarterback for too many years. They haven’t drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1983.

They don’t have to pick a quarterback in the first round of this draft on Thursday night because of that notorious streak. But they can’t keep pushing this issue down the road. That’s how they wound up patching things together with a series of quarterbacks discarded by other teams ever since they drafted Todd Blackledge in 1983.

There’s no better time than this year. They have a coach, Andy Reid, who is willing and capable of developing a young quarterback. They’ll have the need, perhaps in 2018, perhaps the following season, after Alex Smith’s contract expires. They have a deep roster and 10 draft picks, so they can afford to spend their first choice on a quarterback.

Can they afford not to? It’s easy to forget now, after Smith has given the Chiefs stability, if not spectacular play, for four seasons. But the Chiefs suffered with some of the NFL’s worst quarterback play for several seasons before Smith’s arrival because they never really tried to draft and develop a quarterback.

In ESPN’s NFL Nation mock draft on TV on Tuesday night, I considered a number of available players for the Chiefs with their first-round pick, including quarterbacks Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Davis Webb of California and some defensive players.

But the Chiefs need to think big here. They need to go with the quarterback with the most potential, the one who can best deliver the Chiefs from their quarterback purgatory of so many years, the one who can best make sure they can go another period of several years without having to draft a quarterback in the first round.

That’s why with the 27th pick in the NFL Nation mock draft, I gave the Chiefs Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Texas Tech.