Both were together at Texas Tech. Webb a year ahead of Mahomes and was the starter, until he suffered an injury. Mahomes took over and Webb never got the job back. He transferred to Cal. Both starred and became top-ranked prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
They find themselves linked again in the NFL. Not by team, but by how they ended up where they ended up. Both the Giants and Chiefs found themselves in similar circumstances entering the draft. The Giants picked 23rd, the Chiefs 27th. Both had begun to consider futures without their current quarterbacks, Eli Manning for the Giants and Alex Smith for Kansas City.
Because of how the two teams went about addressing that long-range concern, Mahomes and Webb could find themselves as benchmarks for each other throughout their careers. The Chiefs traded up, way up, swapping first-round picks with the Buffalo Bills and giving up a third-round pick this season and their 2018 first-rounder to get to No. 10. The Giants simply sat in their original draft spots, waited, and selected Webb in the third round, 87th overall.
When it is all said and done, which team will have made the better decision? We won’t really be able to answer that for years, until we see how each quarterback develops. We put that question to a variety of NFL and draft analysts, though, asking them to project. After all, isn’t that what scouting is all about? Here are some of the responses we got.
Years from now, when we know what kind of players they turn into, who will look like they made the better decision in this draft -- the Chiefs for the bold move up to 10 to get Mahomes or the Giants for sitting, waiting and selecting Webb in the third round?
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus:
I think both are big-upside guys with the physical tools you want. Mahomes has played better overall and I would be more confident in his ability to pan out, but then Webb was taken far later where the risk is significantly mitigated. I feel more confident in Mahomes becoming a better player, or his chances to be a viable NFL QB, which I guess is the only measuring stick that matters, but then they also aggressively went to get him and have far more on the line if it doesn't pan out.
Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders:
I'm a Mahomes guy, and I generally don't expect much from third-round quarterbacks, so I would have to say the Chiefs here. It's practically a guarantee that Mahomes will get his shot there, and he's a very intriguing talent to be working with Andy Reid, who tends to get the best out of his quarterbacks. There's a more than decent shot that Webb never starts a season opener for New York, which still has an established starter who never misses time in Eli Manning. We see teams do this often, such as when the Patriots drafted Ryan Mallett and the Saints grabbed Garrett Grayson two years ago. I wouldn't spend a top 100 pick on a quarterback if I had one I was confident could win a Super Bowl for me. I think the Chiefs jumped on a chance to get an (eventual) upgrade on Alex Smith, who seemingly never will get this team to outscore someone like New England in a big game.
Mark Schofield of Inside The Pylon:
Schematically, I like the fit of Mahomes in a West Coast-based offense looking to add some vertical ability more than Webb in the Giants' West Coast O. Webb moving to that kind of system is a bit more of a projection right now, as he truly thrived with the deep ball, but struggled at times in the short/intermediate area.
That being said, coming to the Giants with Eli firmly entrenched as the starter there is no immediate pressure to play Webb over a two-time Super Bowl winner. Conversely, Kansas City is wondering if they have peaked under Alex Smith, and there might be a move to play Mahomes sooner. So Webb gets the benefit of time. He can work on his footwork, acclimate himself to an NFL offense, and improve those areas he needs to improve.
I still think that Mahomes is the better quarterback, and if I'm placing bets I expect him to be the better NFL QB. But the answer likely lies in how quickly - and why - Mahomes starts seeing live action. There will be expectations to give him the keys early, particularly if Smith struggles. Webb won't face those expectations and will get some time to season. And finally, look at it from a different perspective. If neither QB pans out, the Giants let Webb fall to him, while Kansas City needed to move up and give up draft capital in the process.