The New Orleans Saints were heralded for their 2017 draft class, a group that has strongly contributed toward the team going 47-14 since the start of that season -- and kept franchise quarterback Drew Brees playing at a Pro Bowl level. New Orleans' 47 wins since the start of the 2017 season are the most in the NFL.
The Saints draft class of Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Alvin Kamara, Trey Hendrickson, and Marcus Williams could have been even better if New Orleans could have selected Patrick Mahomes instead of Lattimore (Mahomes was picked one spot ahead of Lattimore at No. 10 overall after the Kansas City Chiefs traded up ahead of New Orleans). Saints head coach Sean Payton liked Mahomes coming out of the draft that year, even though he didn't have the chance to draft him at No. 11 overall.
Mahomes never got the vibe the Saints were going to draft him, even though he had a strong pre-draft workout with the team.
"I didn't sense that they were going to pick me obviously with Drew (Brees) still being there and the success that he still has to this day and so at the same time I think they got a great player in Marshon Lattimore, so I'm sure they're still happy with that," Mahomes said to reporters Wednesday. "It's just crazy how stuff works out that we're in this position that we are in now."
The Chiefs quarterback was clearly impressed with Payton in the pre-draft process, as Mahomes would likely have had similar success to what he's accomplished thus far with the Chiefs. Mahomes has the most passing yards (13,620), passing touchdowns (109), passer rating (110.0) and fewest interceptions (23) through a player's first 44 starts in NFL history -- winning an NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP award in his first three seasons.
"That was the first thing you kind of see I mean, the way he talks to you, the way he coaches you can tell he truly cares about the guys he coaches and he wants to make them better," Mahomes said. "That day he wanted to get it out of me and see where I was at and also help me improve in every way possible. You can see how he coaches, I mean, obviously he's an offensive genius, but he also really is respected by his guys in his locker room.
"Then you could see how all the stuff he's done for years and years had success and then when you watch them on film, you can see all the different game plan plays that they have is as long as their base plays. They do a great job of executing and really getting the ball to their playmakers and I think it's very similar to what we do here and it's pretty cool to be able to go against another great coach like that."
Brees has put up impressive numbers in the years since, as Mahomes would likely still be riding the bench in New Orleans until Brees retired -- if the Saints had the opportunity to draft him. The Chiefs quarterback would only have received the opportunity to play over the past two years when Brees suffered various injuries that kept him out of games.
Perhaps the Saints would have closed the book on Brees sooner if Mahomes was on the roster. The Saints are more than pleased with Lattimore -- a two-time Pro Bowl selection and defensive rookie of the year in 2017. Having Mahomes would have been great, even if it was an opportunity the Saints never had.
"We were extremely impressed," Payton said. "He had all those things that you look for. He was in a hurried offense a little bit, the protection wasn't great, but, man, you saw him survive rushes, you saw him throw without his feet set. You saw him do a lot of things that you don't get to see sometimes from a college player.
"He does a good job processing the information quickly, the protections, he does a good job evaluating the rush lanes instinctively, climb and escape, outside and escape, climb and throw, but his arm strength, his awareness and then his ability to process and throw it are very rare."
What could have been for the Saints, was the Chiefs incredible gain. Kansas City is certainly pleased the Saints -- and many other teams -- passed on Mahomes.