The Scout Who Found Patrick Mahomes

The Scout Who Found Patrick Mahomes

It’s an improbable story—a decade ago Brett Veach was scouting an offensive lineman at Texas Tech when the Aggies QB stole his attention. Once Veach found Patrick Mahomes, he couldn’t shake him. When Brett Veach followed Andy Reid to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, he accepted a position as the team’s “pro and college personnel analyst,” a vague, undefined front‑office role that doubled as a blank canvas, a dream job for an upwardly mobile football scout. Veach worked under general manager John Dorsey, an archetypal football grunt with a general’s baritone voice and a habit of wearing the same gray sweatshirt, and Chris Ballard, a handsome, well‑coiffed director of pro personnel with a bright future. Veach did a little of everything—college scouting, pro personnel work; the job description was basically Let’s see what you got—but above all else, he watched tape of football players.

If you think you understand how much tape football scouts consume in a given year, you’re almost certainly wrong. It is an astonishing, astounding, almost sickening amount. When Dorsey came to Kansas City, the organization’s scouts spent the seventeen days before the NFL Scouting Combine watching tape of college players— marathon sessions that began at 5 a.m. and sometimes lasted late into the evening, like a training camp for scouts. Dorsey was the typTo Veach, the question became an obsession. Who was Patrick Mahomes? What was his story? Why was he at Texas Tech? Did he have the right size? How old was he? Would he be in the draft next year? It eventually led Veach down a rabbit hole—more tape and more ridiculous throws and more questions—and one day that spring, as he later recalled, he was grinding Mahomes tape on a quiet weekend inside the Chiefs’ offices when Andy Reid happened by. Reid was curious about what Veach was up to. Veach had a simple answer: He was watching the next quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs.

e of football man who believed that salvation could be found through film work, that if you couldn’t discern an answer about a player on tape, it probably didn’t exist. In the old scout’s view, the only way to find talent—the only way to build a championship roster that could win a Super Bowl—was to grind tape, three, four, five games at a time, so much tape that if you looked up at the clock and realized five hours had passed and your brain wasn’t completely numb, well, maybe you were onto something. This is what happened to Brett Veach one day in early 2016.

Veach no longer held a vague title. He’d been promoted to codirector of player personnel, and he was looking at an offensive lineman from Texas Tech who was projected to go in the NFL draft that spring. Among the first games he watched was Texas Tech’s 56–27 loss to LSU in the Texas Bowl on December 29, 2015. It wasn’t much of a game. LSU had All‑American running back Leonard Fournette and NFL talent all over the field. But as Veach watched, he kept finding himself drawn to the quarterback from Texas Tech, who was slinging sidearm passes and scrambling around and fighting like hell to keep his overmatched team in the game. Veach once joked with colleagues that he has an internal “excitometer” that surfaces when he watches football players, a crude measurement system that existed in his mind and his gut. On the day he first witnessed Patrick Mahomes, the system overloaded. Mahomes had just finished his sophomore season—just two years removed from Whitehouse High. He’d thrown for 4,653 yards as a sophomore and put up big numbers in the Red Raiders’ Air Raid offense, as most Texas Tech quarterbacks did, but owing to his quiet college recruitment and the fact he wasn’t eligible for the draft for another year, he wasn’t exactly on NFL radars. “Who is this guy?” Veach thought.

Once Brett Veach found Patrick Mahomes, he couldn’t shake him. There was something about the way Mahomes’s body worked, how his right arm could unleash thunderbolts from the most awkward angles, how he was built sturdy like a running back—with a backside that once helped him earn the nickname “Fatrick” at Texas Tech. Veach had less than a decade of scouting experience since joining Reid in Philly, but the more he watched, the more he was certain: Mahomes was the best football player he’d ever seen. He had spent the fall of 2016 combing through Texas Tech film, culling clips and sending them to Reid. He used his salesman’s touch to lobby Dorsey, who would have final say on the Draft. At one point, late in the fall, Veach put together around ten Mahomes highlights and flooded Reid’s phone. OK, Reid texted back, that was enough. Wait until the season is over.


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