Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs don’t need to be told how great Patrick Mahomes is. We know. When a quarterback comes in and leads his team to four straight AFC Championship games in his first four seasons as a starter and ends the team’s 50-year Super Bowl drought, his greatness is definitely appreciated.
However, I’m not sure that all Chiefs fans realize just how special his early-career numbers have been.Over the last 20 years, the NFL has seen the most prolific quarterbacks of all time. When you look at the records for the most passing yards and passing touchdowns, the same four names sit at the top of both lists:
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre. These four had both the talent and the opportunity to play during the NFL’s modern era where the emphasis has shifted to passing the football. They also had extremely long careers. Manning retired as the “youngest” of the four at 39 years old. The other three all played past the age of 40.
It should go without saying that if Mahomes wants to match or pass the career numbers of these four he will have to play for a long time, but greatness is about more than just longevity. I was curious just how Mahomes’ numbers stacked up to the most prolific passers in NFL history at the same stage of their careers. So I went back over the early seasons of Brady, Brees, Manning, and Favre to see if any of them could hold a flame to what Mahomes has done in his short career.
For three of the four quarterbacks, the comparison is very straightforward. Brady, Brees, and Favre all sat their rookie seasons as well and then became the full-time starter in their second season. Peyton Manning is where things can be up for debate since he started from day one of his rookie year. When comparing Mahomes and Manning do you look at their first 5 NFL seasons or their first four seasons as a starter? I decided to do both.
First I’m going to show you the stats for all five after their first five NFL seasons. Keep in mind, this isn’t necessarily the five best QBs after five seasons. This is just Mahomes and the four most prolific QBs of all time.