Patrick Mahomes was sitting through a two-hour film session at the Pittsburgh Steelers' facility on Monday when the highlight of his latest pre-draft visit walked through the door.
"I was watching film there, for about two hours, and he walked in just to say 'Hi'," Mahomes told NFL.com. "There wasn't much to it, but that was the most exciting thing of the trip for me. I look at him, and I try to play with that same toughness. He's going to be a Hall of Famer, he's been to Super Bowls, that's the guy you want to be like. Hopefully I'll get to learn from him one day. Maybe I'll end up competing against him."
As the Pittsburgh Steelers await confirmation from Roethlisberger that he indeed will be the club's quarterback for at least another season, they are at the same time planning for the future at the position. Along with Mahomes, they also had Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs in for a Monday visit. Nobody knows for sure when Roethlisberger's heir will eventually take over the club's offense, but the Steelers have little choice but to begin auditioning possibilities like Mahomes. Fortunately, there was nothing awkward about the encounter.
"He didn't make any jokes about that," Mahomes said.
"They taught me a lot of stuff, and we went hard. We worked on turning at the top and getting through my throws to the left a little better," Mahomes said. "After watching my pro day film, I felt like I could have thrown the ball to the left better. I threw it well, but it could have been better. We worked on that, and they showed me some things to help me finish throws more with my lower body."
When Mahomes' college coach, Kliff Kingsbury, was with the Jets in 2005, Bates was the Jets' quarterbacks coach then, too. Mahomes and his private coach, Mike Sheppard, noticed a few points on which to improve from a pro day workout that was held just two days earlier, and mentioned the issues to Bates. He obliged with a bit more focus on fundamentals, and Mahomes couldn't have been more appreciative.
"We watched some film first, but once we got on the field, coach Bates showed why he is a great coach and he gave me some tips on how to get around and get through your target a little better," Mahomes said. "We talked about using touch on certain throws and on other throws, you've got to drill it. He'd be a great coach for me to work with."
The Jets and Steelers would potentially offer very contrasting opportunities for Mahomes. The Jets have a big need at the quarterback position and could find themselves putting a rookie on the field this fall. The Steelers, presuming Roethlisberger's continued career, would provide more of a sit-and-learn situation for a young quarterback.
"(The Jets) definitely know my situation, I know their situation, they know if I get an opportunity to play, I'll give it all I have," Mahomes said. "Hopefully they think I'm ready enough. Being a competitor, you want to play as fast as you can. But at the same time, the guys who sit for a little bit are the guys who end up having better careers sometimes."