Peter King explains why Patrick Mahomes may be a better leader than player


The 2018 season of Patrick Mahomes was as great as you remember it. The no-look pass, the incredible game-saving fourth-and-nine throw under pressure across his body sprinting right to save the win over Baltimore, putting up 71 points in the two duels to the end (both losses) against Brady and Belichick, piloting the offense to 31.8 points per game after the stunning firing of Kareem Hunt. Doing it all at age 23. I saw Brett Favre recently, and he said he doesn’t watch much NFL these days—but when Mahomes is on, he does.

Kansas City is a giddy city these days, and it revolves around Mahomes and the Chiefs. The valet-parking guy at my hotel here saw me and raved about Mahomes. “He’s almost too good. What a kid,” he said. At a Royals game, a fan said to me, “I’ve never seen this place so fired up about the Chiefs. It’s Mahomes.” You just feel it.

Talk to those around the Chiefs, and they’ll tell you that Mahomes the leader, the team-influencer, has been nearly as impressive as Mahomes the player. In the long run, that stuff matters—not nearly as much as the magical stuff and pure production that Mahomes has brought to the Chiefs. But it’s important to the ethos of a championship team. It’s just another reason I’m picking the Chiefs to win their first Super Bowl in 50 years.

The prime example of Mahomes the leader came the day after the Hunt news broke. The Chiefs fired Hunt when they discovered he’d been untruthful with them about an incident when he was found to have abused a woman in Cleveland in the offseason. The next day, a Saturday, the Chiefs had to leave for a game in Oakland. Before they did, coach Andy Reid was going to address the team about the Hunt situation. That morning, before the meeting, Mahomes asked Reid if he could talk to the players. Alone. Just the players. Reid weighed it; he’d thought he’d talk to the team and that would be it.

“I thought about it,” Reid told me during camp. “This was coming from him. I could tell it was something he really wanted to do. It’s different coming from a player, and what I’ve found from Patrick is what he thinks usually is coming from the right place. I thought it’d be good.”

Mahomes spoke for maybe two minutes. It wasn’t long. He said he loved Kareem Hunt, as did everyone in the room, and Hunt would continue to be a friend. He said everyone in this room would stick together and they’d get through this, and we’ve come too far to let one thing derail this season, and we won’t let it, and we don’t know who is going to pick up the slack without Kareem, but whoever it is, we’re still going to be great.

Those words aren’t I have a dream-worthy, but in the moment, when the fifth-youngest player on the team asks to speak to the team when it might be teetering on the brink of something, and the room gets silent, it’s an important time.

“Where’d that come from?” I asked Mahomes.

“It’s just from the people that I’ve seen before me,” said Mahomes, whose dad (Pat Mahomes) and godfather (LaTroy Hawkins) had long baseball careers in the major leagues. “When I was growing up in clubhouses with my dad and my godfather LaTroy, I was around some great leaders, and I saw them speak when they had to speak. Just being in the locker room here for my first year and last year, I saw the right moment to talk. You can’t fake that stuff. It has to be genuine. Has to be when you’ve earned the respect of your teammates. There’s gotta be times when you step up, you talk to make sure everything stays on course. We have a lot of great leaders on this team. We listen to each other. Whenever I talk, I have guys that are enforcing that with me. Whenever guys like Travis Kelce, or all these guys talk too, I can kind of reiterate what they’re saying as well.”

“That’s not just one time,” Reid said. “That’s Patrick every day. He understands people. He’s great with every guy on the roster. He understands how teams work.”

This offseason, Mahomes began his first huddle at OTAs with a Brady-like, “Let’s be great today.” His offseason educations encompassed lessons learned against New England. Two things interested me with Mahomes this offseason:

What he learned in his two games against New England. Mahomes had way too many missed chances early in the two meetings with New England last year. Kansas City trailed in the regular-season meeting at Foxboro at the half, 24-9. Kansas City trailed at home in the AFC title game at the half, 14-0. In the two second halves, the Chiefs scored 62 points … but couldn’t dig out of the big halftime holes. “You can’t make mistakes against Tom Brady and coach [Bill] Belichick and the Patriots the way we did in both games, early in the game. We obviously made things happen in the second half of both those games and gave ourselves chances to win. But if we just go in with the mindset of making adjustments even quicker, making sure that you go out there with a game plan and execute at a high level just from the beginning. They’re gonna keep executing, so you better too.” I relayed what Mahomes said to Reid. “Astute observation by a smart player. It’s always a short feel-out process against a championship team, fast and furious. We better learn that.”

What he worked on this spring and summer. Decision-making, he said. “That’s the biggest thing for me—just knowing when to go for the shot and when to take the first down and move the chains, that’s something I’ve really worked on. Situationally deciding when to go for that scramble, trying to throw it all the way down the field and when to just complete the little short one and get the first down.” Perfect example from that regular-season loss to New England: Mahomes had first-and-10 from the Pats’ 25 late in the half, down 24-9. He scrambled right, Dont’a Hightower with a grip on his jersey, and launched a deep shot into the end zone, right into triple-coverage by the Patriots. Duron Harmon picked it off. Mahomes didn’t make a lot of mistakes last year, but that one was terrible. “I feel like if I can just get better at situationally knowing when to take that shot and when not to, I think that’d be a big step in my game,” he said.

Mahomes and the Chiefs will have to be good early because of a tough schedule late. Last four: at New England, Denver at home, at Chicago, Chargers at home. But it’d be surprising if Mahomes took a step back this year. The Chiefs, wary of losing Tyreek Hill last spring, reinforced the receiver corps with the second-round choice of Mecole Hardman of Georgia. That gives them three guys who have run the 40 in less than 4.35 seconds: Hill, Sammy Watkins and Hardman.

But the Patriots will be formidable, as will the Chargers and Steelers. This could be New England’s best defense in years, a defense that frustrated Mahomes and Reid in both games. If they both make it to the third Sunday in January, Mahomes-Brady IV could be the game of the year. My money’s on Mahomes to play a complete game this time, and get to the franchise’s first Super Bowl since Hank Stram rode on the shoulders of the winning Chiefs a half-century ago.

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Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft CB Rankings: Devon Witherspoon highlights loaded draft class


The 2023 NFL Draft is growing nearer, with just weeks remaining until teams make selections that could alter the future of their franchise forever.

A solid secondary is crucial to any team’s defensive prowess, and for the teams looking to tighten up in coverage, this year’s draft is the one to do so.

The 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class is an incredibly deep one, but which corner will be first off the board? Chris Simms unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback rankings this week on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, posting Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top of his list of corners in this year’s crop.

But trailing Witherspoon very closely are four other potential NFL superstars, with Simms ranking Michigan’s DJ Turner at No. 2, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at No. 3, Maryland’s Deonte Banks at No. 4 and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo at No. 5.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and end on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday with rounds two and three airing on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. Click here for Simms’ quarterback rankings,and here for his list of top wide receivers.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Simms’ Top Five CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tier One

1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

2. DJ Turner, Michigan

3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Tier Two

4. Deonte Banks, Maryland

Tier Three

5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

RELATED: 2023 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

Simms Breaks Down 2023 Draft CB Rankings

The following are highlights from Simms’ CB draft rankings. For Simms’ in-depth analysis, read below for a breakdown on each prospect and be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

No. 1: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

What Simms said: “This guy is must-see TV. He’s up there with one of the most twitchy, sudden people I’ve ever seen in my life to the point where when he takes off, you’re like, ‘Wait, is that real? Did he really get to full speed in half a step?’ … Bump or off, both are phenomenol —  it’s rare to have that. He’s got very good play strength for a guy that’s 5’11” and a half at 181 lbs. He doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s 220 … It’s efficient and easy. He’s sudden and can see the ability to accelerate whether it’s downhill or sticking the foot in the ground and changing direction. As compared to my No. 2 and No. 3 guy, he might be a hair tighter in his hips, but his twitchiness and explosion and acceleration … you just start to go, ‘What does this guy not have, besides the fact that he’s not 6’2” or over 200 lbs.’ He’s phenomenol.”

No. 2: DJ Turner, Michigan

What Simms said: “To me, (DJ Turner is) the most technically sound corner in the draft. There’s nobody better at technique. Like Witherspoon, the ability to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, the quick feet, it’s phenomenol. His hips are better than Witherspoon … His ability to flip those hips, turn and break on the ball, it’s right up there. It’s actually more smooth hip-wise than it is for Devon Witherspoon … What more can you say about the guy? Start-stop ability, amazing. Make-up speed, amazing. Other than Witherspoon, I think he’s put in the second-most tough spots out of anybody I’ve watched in this. He plays man-to-man, in your face a ton against big-time receivers. He’s awesome defending double moves. He could be the best nickel or outside guy, and he’s also the fastest guy in the draft. He’s got it all.”

No. 3: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

What Simms said: “There’s not much to pick apart here … He’s got a little more size and meat on his bones. The Tee Higgins of the world, the bigger receivers of the world, they’re gonna have a harder time pushing him around and doing that stuff. He’s got incredible ball skills … He looks prototype. He looks Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey-ish in his uniform …  He just wasn’t as edgy as the other guys … He’s gonna match up better with DeAndre Hopkins than the other two. But I don’t know if he’ll match up better with Jaylen Waddle or Ja’Marr Chase than the other two … But his technique is real. He’s a top-20 pick. You talk size, technique and straight speed, of course this guy is one of the top corners in the draft.” 

No. 4: Deonte Banks, Maryland

What Simms said: “He has more measurables like Gonzalez. 6 foot, 197 lbs., there’s a thickness to him and a power and strength element that certainly jumps out. Let alone, speed is Real Deal Holyfield … man-to-man, great legs, runs easy … He’s comfortable in his speed. He’s never panicked. He’s comfortable in going, ‘You have a step on me? That’s fine, I’m good,’ … But he’s also incredible, like Witherspoon and Turner, at getting on top of people when they try to run a go-route. No one can ever really get around him for the most part … He’s sticky as hell, he’s got very good feet, but he doesn’t know how to use his hands at all yet. So he’s not really that great at jamming people at the line of scrimmage, but he’s never not there … I thought his ability to play the ball and create PBUs in those 50/50 situations where the quarterback tries to throw the ball back shoulder and all that, he’s got a great feel and vision to be able to cover and see the throw at the same time that I was very impressed with.”

No. 5: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

What Simms said: “When you turn on the film, you go, ‘What? This guy’s a corner, he’s not a safety?’ Because he has a prototype safety vibe … Against the bigger, straight-liner guys, nobody’s gonna push this dude around. That’s certainly not going to be an issue, that along with the straight speed. Hey, the change of direction stuff is not beautiful. He’s a little heavy-footed because he’s a bigger guy … but it’s not bad … When he opens up, he can really go; obviously with a 4.36 second 40 time … He’s very smooth as far as an athlete overall.” 

For more preview content of the 2023 NFL Draft, stay tuned to Chris Simms UnbuttonedProFootballTalk and NBC Sports EDGE for all the latest updates, player analysis and mock drafts.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: The top QBs, WRs, RBs, and more ahead of draft weekend


The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for the full first-round draft order to find out when your team is picking.

Ahead of this year’s draft, Chris Simms has already started analyzing the top prospects by position on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. So far, Simms has revealed his highly anticipated list of the top 5 quarterback prospects and wide receivers. See below to find out who made the top 5 names for each position and be sure to check back for updates!

Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL Draft as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings:

  1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
  4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
  5. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Will Levis, Kentucky

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft WR Rankings:

  1. Zay Flowers, Boston College
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njibga, Ohio State
  3. Quentin Jonston, TCU
  4. Michael Wilson, Stanford
  5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Chris Simms 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. DJ Turner, Michigan
  3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  4. Deonte Banks, Maryland
  5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

How can I watch the 2023 NFL Draft live?

ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will air all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.

What time does the NFL Draft start?

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds two and three will commence Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s final rounds at 12 p.m.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Season and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!