Ranking Josh Allen among the QBs of the AFC before 2022 NFL Draft

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Buffalo Bills
Mario Addison, Buffalo Bills (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /

1B. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)

Listen, I get it. I probably look like a hater right now. You’re probably thinking “you’re a homer, there’s no QB better than Mahomes.” And while that’s a fair thought about the former league and Super Bowl MVP, I think we’ve got to look a little deeper at it here.

While his 2021 season was godly amongst mere mortals (37 TD passes, 13 INTs, 98.5 passer rating, 62.2 QBR, career-high 381 rushing yards), it was below the lofty standard Mahomes has set forth through his first four seasons as a starter. He had career-worst marks in INTs, passer rating, QBR, passing yards per game, and sacks taken since becoming a full-time starter in 2018.

Mahomes had six games in 2021 where his passer rating was below 80. Just for perspective, he had four total in his first four seasons in the league. And although he remains a fairly accurate passer (77.2% on-target throw rate over the last three seasons), Mahomes tends to be a little risky with his throws, as he had an 18.8% poor-throws rate last season (sixth highest in the NFL).

Now it’s hard to argue the eye test with him after he guided the Chiefs to a 12-5 record, a sixth straight division title for the team, as well as their fourth consecutive berth in the AFC Championship game. Plus Mahomes played far better down the stretch of the season (23 TD passes, 4 INTs, 117.6 passer rating in his final 8 outings, including the playoffs).

Also of note, Mahomes is one of the top scramblers in the game, as he averaged 8.7 yards per scramble in 2021.

But it was the inconsistency Mahomes had throughout the year that stood out, which showed up once again in the AFC title game. His first-half numbers against his second-half ones are starling. After totaling more touchdowns than incompletions (17 for 19, 89.5% completion rate, 3 TD passes), Mahomes had a 9-for-20 showing with two INTs. It was literally the biggest drop-off from one half to the next we’ve seen for a QB in recent memory.

And that’s not taking away from the 402-yard, five-TD effort Mahomes had in the Wild Card game against the Steelers or the dazzling performance he had in the Divisional Round classic against the Bills. But it just goes to show how much he’s raised the bar for QB play in the league.

He’ll need to keep raising that bar too now that Tyreek Hill is a Miami Dolphin. He will have Travis Kelce back at TE, as well as Mecole Hardman and 2022 free agent signee JuJu Smith-Schuster, as they look to replace the production left behind by Hill, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson after they all departed KC.

There’s no denying Mahomes is still in the conversation for the best player in the sport. But 2022 will be the first time we see him in a situation that isn’t as chalky as these last few seasons have been.