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Pre-Camp Breakdown: Evaluating the Three QBs Behind Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs currently employ four quarterbacks on the roster heading into training camp

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to kick off training camp in just over three short weeks, and with the annual pilgrimage to St. Joseph nearly here, we're going to spend the next month examining every position group on the roster heading into camp.

We'll begin at quarterback, where the Chiefs employ the league's best player in Patrick Mahomes. The 27-year-old Mahomes is coming off a historic season in 2022 that saw him become the first player in more than 20 seasons to win both NFL and Super Bowl MVP honors.

Additionally, Mahomes set a single-season league record in 2022 with 5,420 yards of total offense while also becoming just the seventh quarterback in league history to post multiple 40-touchdown campaigns.

Mahomes owns the league marks for touchdown passes (192) and passing yards (24,241) through 80 career regular season games in NFL history, but far more importantly, he is only the fifth quarterback in league history to win multiple Super Bowl titles before turning 28 years old.

Mahomes is undeniably on track to end his career as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen, and despite his immense resume, the best may still be yet to come.

Behind Mahomes, the Chiefs currently have three quarterbacks under contract who will compete for an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. Let's take a look at each, beginning with veteran signal caller Blaine Gabbert.

Blaine Gabbert

Gabbert signed with the Chiefs in late April after four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the latter three of which he spent backing up Tom Brady. He appeared in 11 total games during that time, completing 22 of 35 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. His tenure in Tampa Bay included one appearance last season, where he completed 6-of-8 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown in that lone game of work.

Prior to joining Tampa Bay, Gabbert – who originally entered the NFL as a first-round pick in 2011 – spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2011-13), San Francisco 49ers (2014-16), Arizona Cardinals (2017) and Tennessee Titans (2018). In total, the 33-year-old Gabbert has completed 864-of-1,533 passes for 9,302 yards and 51 touchdowns in 67 games (48 starts) during his career as a professional.

The former University of Missouri star certainly has plenty of experience, but specifically, Gabbert's time in Tampa Bay seems to have been a positive one that served as a stabilizer for his career. Prior to his time with the Buccaneers, Gabbert served under numerous head coaches and offensive coordinators that essentially forced him to start from scratch on a yearly basis. Conversely, it appears that his stint with the Buccaneers provided for significant growth as a quarterback. He explained as much to the Tampa Bay Times prior to the 2022 season:

"You look back in 2017, it's like you're studying every night, learning the formations, just trying to keep your head above the water. Now, you have more freedom. You know exactly what you want to get to, how to get to it, where are we supposed to be, and when they're supposed to be there. You can really take that next step in not only your own maturation process of playing football, but helping the young guys. That's what I enjoy the most really today."

It's also worth pointing out that Gabbert was the Buccaneers' first-team quarterback during Brady's extended absence from training camp last year. The responsibility of a backup quarterback is to be ready to command the offense at a moment's notice, and while Gabbert doesn't have a ton of experience in regular-season games over the last few seasons, his time in Tampa Bay was clearly beneficial.

Shane Buechele

Buechele is entering his third season with the Chiefs, and while he has yet to appear in a regular season game, he was on Kansas City's active roster all of last season.

The 25-year-old Buechele, who joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2021, completed 31-of-51 passes for 335 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in three preseason games last year. He beat out a fourth competitior for the third quarterback spot in each of the last two seasons, besting Anthony Gordon in 2021 and Dustin Crum in 2022.

Prior to joining the Chiefs, Buechele racked up some serious numbers during his time at SMU. After two seasons at the University of Texas, Buechele joined the Mustangs in 2019 and immediately began to re-write the school record books. In fact, despite just two years on campus, Buechele left SMU with the second-most touchdown passes (57) and third-most passing yards (7,024) in school history. He was among the top passers in the nation in 2020, ranking ninth in passing yards (3,095) and 13th in passing touchdowns (23).

Chris Oladokun

Originally a seventh-round pick (No. 241 overall) of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft, Oladokun was released by Pittsburgh in mid-August of that year before signing with the Chiefs' practice squad shortly after final roster cuts. He remained on the practice squad throughout the 2022 campaign.

Prior to his career in the NFL, Oladokun spent time at the University of South Florida (2016-18), Samford University (2019-20) and South Dakota State (2021). His final season was perhaps his best, as Oladokun threw for 3,164 yards and 25 touchdowns in 15 games for the Jackrabbits. He also demonstrated an ability to be an effective dual-threat quarterback during his collegiate career, notably racking up nearly 500 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns for Samford in 2019.

The Bottom Line

The Chiefs elected to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster following training camp last year (Mahomes, Buechele and Chad Henne), which broke a trend of three consecutive seasons in which they only kept two on the initial 53-man roster. With that in mind, the trio of Gabbert, Buechele and Oladokun will compete in both camp and during the preseason for likely only one or two spots.

The existence of the expanded practice squad, however, creates the possibility that all four quarterbacks could conceivably stick around in one way or another for the 2023 season. The Chiefs kept four total quarterbacks (Mahomes, Henne, Buechele and Oladokun) in the building last year by utilizing the practice squad, so it's quite possible they choose to do the same once again this upcoming season. The answer to that question – and more importantly, if a third quarterback makes the active roster – will be determined during camp.

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