INDIANAPOLIS — To replace Jay Cutler, the Bears could draft Jay Cutler.
See if this sounds familiar:
‘‘He’s different,’’ NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said before the scouting combine. ‘‘He’s a gunslinger. He’s got an innate feel for the game. The more I look at him, the more I’m pushing him higher and closer to that first-round conversation.’’
‘‘He’’ is Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. And, yes, he has seen the Cutler comparison made by, among others, NFL.com’s draft-evaluation site.
‘‘Jay Cutler definitely has a tremendous arm,’’ Mahomes said Friday. ‘‘The guy’s played in the NFL for a long time. It’s awesome to have any comparison to any NFL quarterback.’’
Less than three years after walking away from a Major League Baseball draft selection and only 14 months after giving up on college baseball, Mahomes is 2017’s big-armed wunderkind.
Mahomes, a 6-3, 215-pounder, led the Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense in each of the last two seasons before deciding to declare for the draft after a junior season in which he threw for 5,052 yards. In 32 college games, he threw for 93 touchdowns and ran for 22 more but also had 29 interceptions.
‘‘That’s definitely a gunslinger mentality, as well as stuff scrambling outside the pocket,’’ Mahomes said. ‘‘But I’ve really worked on my fundamentals these last two months.’’
If the Bears pass on a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick, Mahomes might be available in the second round. But would they have the stomach for a player whose flaws mirror Cutler’s? If not, Miami’s Brad Kaaya, Cal’s Davis Webb or Pitt’s Nate Peterman might be more palatable.
‘‘I can make every throw,’’ Mahomes said. ‘‘I have the athleticism to extend the play. I’m just going to keep working on getting every aspect of my game better.’’
Mahomes has the pedigree. His father, Pat, pitched 11 seasons in majors, including 16 appearances for the 95-loss Cubs in 2002. His godfather is former reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
‘‘They really have shown me the way to be a professional athlete,’’ he said. ‘‘And that’s definitely something I feel like is an advantage for me.’’
Mahomes said he remembers watching the two prepare themselves to pitch, even on days they weren’t scheduled to.
‘‘You saw how hard they worked,’’ he said. ‘‘And when they got to the big leagues, how hard they worked to stay there.’’
Mahomes must fight the dreaded ‘‘system quarterback’’ label. Despite the unparalleled success of Texas Tech’s ‘‘Air Raid’’ scheme the last two decades, only two Red Raiders quarterbacks have been drafted: Kliff Kingsbury in the sixth round and B.J. Symons in the seventh. They combined to attempt only two pro passes.
‘‘I just show them my knowledge for the game; that’s the only way I can prove it wrong,’’ Mahomes said. ‘‘You look back at the system quarterback, a lot of guys didn’t work out. So it’s just going to be about proving those guys wrong, going out there and really showing my knowledge of the game and just competing. It’ll all show up when you get to the field.’’
Mahomes said the toughest question he has been asked all week was whether he considers himself a dog or cat.
‘‘I chose dog,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel like I’ve got a fiery dog mentality on the field.’’
The bigger question is, is he a Jay?
Brad Kaaya, Miami
Kaaya, who met with the Bears on Friday, played in three different schemes with the Hurricanes.
‘‘A lot of stuff I’m seeing now and I’m talking over with certain teams, a lot of it I’ve seen in my three offenses that I’ve played in prior,’’ he said.
Davis Webb, Cal
He transferred after losing the Texas Tech job to Mahomes and was named the most valuable player of the Senior Bowl.
‘‘I’m not overlooked by NFL teams,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s the only thing I really care about. It’s just you guys [the media] who are doing that.’’
Nate Peterman, Pittsburgh
Peterman played for the Bears’ staff in the Senior Bowl.
‘‘We didn’t win a championship this year,’’ he said. ‘‘But to win some of the games that we did — Clemson and Penn State — a couple of those were big for us.’’
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