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Chiefs' Reid backs QB Smith despite drafting Mahomes early

By Alex Butler
Chiefs' Reid backs QB Smith despite drafting Mahomes early
Former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II was the Kansas City Chiefs' No. 10 overall selection Thursday at the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, Pa. Photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs/Twitter

April 28 (UPI) -- Alex Smith has 79 wins in 11 seasons as a starting quarterback, but that wasn't enough to stop the Kansas City Chiefs from picking a different passer early Thursday in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Reid and the Chiefs splurged on Texas Tech star Patrick Mahomes, trading two first-round picks and a third-round selection to move up from the No. 27 pick to the No. 10 pick in the first round.

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"I don't worry about Alex Smith on this," Reid told reporters after the pick. "Alex knows I have a ton of trust in him. I think it's a great situation for this kid to come into. Alex is the starting quarterback – that's the thing and nothing is going to change there. This kid is going to come in and learn, and it's going to take some time. So, we understand that. Alex has been around this thing a long time. So, he gets it."

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"There's going to be a day when Alex isn't playing anymore. You have to have someone who can step in and go. So, we feel like with this kid – with some growth – will be in a position to do that. That's what is real."

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Smith, 32, has been one of the most conservative, yet successful quarterbacks during his career for the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft has led the Chiefs to three 11-win seasons in the past four years. The team posted an 8-7 mark under Smith in 2014. But Smith, who hasn't thrown more than 10 interceptions in a season since 2009, hasn't traditionally scared opposing defenses. He has never thrown for more than the 3,502 yards he had last season. He has never thrown more than 23 touchdowns in a season. In fact, he has only thrown for 18-plus scores in two of his 11 pro campaigns.

No, you can't call Smith a "gunslinger" like Mahomes was in his three seasons with the Red Raiders.

While Smith has averaged 6.8 yards per attempt in the NFL, Mahomes aired it out at Texas Tech. He has drawn comparisons to Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Jay Cutler.

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"Probably been fortunate to have been around the best gunslinger ever with Brett Favre," Reid told reporters. "I'm not into comparisons, but when you throw the word gunslinger out, you think of that guy. They're different players. Obviously, Brett is a Hall of Fame player. This kid has a long way to go before that. I think we have an opportunity to talk to him and be around him, you'll feel a certain energy and when you see him practice you're going to see a certain intensity that you like. You'll understand it better once you have that opportunity."

Mahomes said that he knew the Chiefs liked him.

"I knew there was a chance," Mahomes said. "I knew Coach Reid and all the coaching staff and the owner, I knew they liked me a lot. I feel like the visit went really well. I knew there was a chance, but you never know on draft day. But I was extremely happy when it happened."

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Mahomes said he felt like his relationship was great with the Chiefs before he was draft. The quarterback "drew up a ton of plays" and the Chiefs really tested his knowledge during his pre-draft visit.

Chiefs general manager John Dorsey called Mahomes a rare talent.

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"This is a really good football player," Dorsey told reporters. "I think these types of guys don't come around that often. I'm willing to invest in that type of player because I believe in his skill set and what he's going to develop into."

Mahomes was the second quarterback taken Thursday, despite being regarded as the third-best passing prospect by many analysts. North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky went with the No. 2 overall selection to the Chicago Bears, while former Clemson star Deshaun Watson went with the No. 12 overall pick to the Houston Texans. The Bears and Texans also had to trade up to select their new passers.

Football fans will likely get a glimpse of Mahomes during the Chiefs' 2017 preseason slate. The Chiefs host the San Francisco 49ers first at 8 p.m. CT on August 11 at Arrowhead Stadium.

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