The Kansas City Chiefs are set to kick off training camp in just five 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 feature arguably the league's best player in Patrick Mahomes. The 26-year-old Mahomes put together another tremendous season in 2021, throwing for 4,839 yards and 37 touchdowns. In fact, Mahomes – who has been the Chiefs' starter for only four seasons – is already one of just three players in NFL history to record at least three seasons with 35+ touchdowns and 4,700+ passing yards, joining Tom Brady (4) and Drew Brees (4). Mahomes has also led Kansas City to at least 11 victories in each of his four seasons under center, racking up the most regular-season (49) and playoff (8) wins of any quarterback since 2018.
He's off to the greatest start for any quarterback in NFL history and is undeniably on track to be one of the best players in all of football for the next decade. Simply put, Mahomes is special, and he's set to be the Chiefs' quarterback for a very long time.
Behind Mahomes, Kansas City employs veteran quarterback Chad Henne as the squad's primary backup. Henne, who has more than a decade of experience under his belt as a professional, demonstrated his worth by leading the Chiefs to victory in the Divisional Round of the 2020-21 postseason following Mahomes' departure due to injury.
Mahomes and Henne are known commodities – we've seen what each of them can do on the football field – but there are two young players in camp this year who will be competing for the right to develop behind Mahomes this upcoming season, whether that be on the roster or the practice squad.
Here's a closer look at quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Dustin Crum heading into camp.
Buechele – who signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent last offseason – is no stranger to this particular battle, as he beat out Anthony Gordon for the No. 3 quarterback role last summer. He saw action in all three preseason games as part of that effort, completing 37-of-55 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns. Buechele went on to begin the season on the practice squad and later joined the active roster in November.
Before 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).
The Athletic's Dane Brugler, one of the top draft analysts out there, compared Buechele to veteran Case Keenum in his 2021 draft guide.
Just like Buechele last year, the Chiefs signed Crum as an undrafted free agent this offseason in order to add some additional competition to the quarterback room.
Crum started 14 games for Kent State in 2021, throwing for 3,187 yards and 20 touchdowns with six interceptions. He was also productive with his legs, racking up 703 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. It was a strong conclusion to an impressive three-year run as Kent State's starter for Crum, who led the program to a 17-13 record in his starts. He was particularly impressive when it mattered most, too, as Crum threw 17 touchdowns (with zero interceptions) during the fourth quarter in his career. That feat was indicative of a larger trend for Crum, who was only intercepted once every 72 passing attempts during his time on campus.
Dane Brugler called Crum an "athletic play-extender with rush skills and toughness outside the pocket," ranking him as the No. 10 quarterback in this year's class. He's a smart dude, too, as he majored in aerospace engineering at Kent State.
The Bottom Line
The Chiefs have perhaps the best quarterback situation in the NFL with Mahomes under center and a reliable backup in Henne ready on the sideline. That portion of the depth chart may as well be written in ink, but the competition between Buechele and Crum is worth monitoring as the Chiefs try to develop a young passer in their quarterback room. Head Coach Andy Reid is known for his historic ability to develop quarterbacks, and grooming another talented young signal caller can only benefit Kansas City.
It's worth mentioning that the Chiefs have kept just two quarterbacks following final roster cuts in each of the last three seasons, but both Buechele and Crum will have their opportunity this summer to show that they deserve to stick around on either the roster or the practice squad.