Every so often, a player comes along with expectations so high that it's almost impossible for him to live up to them. Jadeveon Clowney after he destroyed that poor Michigan running back comes to mind. Even as he's developed into one of the best defenders in the NFL, people still consider him overrated.
Living up to the hype is tough. And if you're a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, you've picked a side when it comes to the potential of second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.
General manager Brett Veach didn't help matters when he, in a post-draft press conference this year, called Mahomes "one of the best players I've ever seen." Some will see a GM confident in the team's selection (and the trade up to get Mahomes) the previous year, when he was the co-director of player personnel. Others see a bar set impossibly high for a player with one career start before the team shipped off incumbent Alex Smith to clear the way for him.
Is the hype real? That's a question I asked many of the Chiefs front office staff, coaches and players.
"Oh, it's real" said a member of the coaching staff. "We've been watching him for a year and he just keeps getting better and better. Sure, there are mistakes, but there are also plays I've never seen a quarterback make before."
Something you hear a lot from people inside the organization: "He makes plays unlike anything we've ever seen before."
Great quarterbacks are often defined by their ability to create, make plays and make the people around them better. One source in the scouting staff pointed back to how well Mahomes did against the Chiefs' starting defense last year while "playing with a bunch of practice squad receivers" and noted "he's torching [Marcus Peters]."
The Chief aren't doing much to dampen expectations. They've watched Mahomes develop from an air raid quarterback with unreal physical gifts into a legitimate starting QB in only a year. One member of the staff went as far to say that barring injury, Mahomes has the tools to be a top-10 NFL quarterback at season's end.
What makes him so special?
The staff raves about his arm strength, athleticism and, per one assistant coach, "that It factor where he just knows where to put the ball. It's all that stuff we saw at [Texas] Tech that made us fall in love with his game, but now he's a year smarter."
Mahomes' pre-draft scouting report was full of praise for his arm strength—which might be the best in the entire league—and his ability to create plays on the move with his athleticism. The biggest question mark was his ability to translate to a pro-style offense, but the Chiefs solved that issue by drafting and stashing Mahomes behind Alex Smith so he could learn and develop.
The Chiefs coaching personnel only amps up the Mahomes hype. Head coach Andy Reid is considered by many to be the best quarterback mentor in the game. And they got to be patient with Mahomes while he worked with former offensive coordinator/current Chicago Bears' head coach Matt Nagy all of last season. Mahomes' time with those coaches and behind Smith allowed him to catch up mentally after coming into the NFL with a lot to learn. Now he's ready to take off.
How good can the Chiefs be this year? A rival general manager thought they would "win between seven and nine games, depending on the defense." Other scouts and coaches told Bleacher Report the Chiefs will go "as far as Mahomes can take them".
The pressure is on the second-year quarterback to carry Kansas City farther than his predecessor could in multiple playoff berths.
For the hype to be real, Mahomes will have to deliver in January. but according to those who've seen him daily for the past year, he's ready.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.