Quarterbacks made their media rounds at the NFL Scouting Combine Friday, and one passer has a unique Minnesota connection.
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is the son of former Major League Baseball pitcher Pat Mahomes, who played for the Minnesota Twins from 1992-96. Patrick's godfather, LaTroy Hawkins, also pitched for the Twins. Hawkins was joined the team in 1995 and was in Minnesota through 2003 before joining the Chicago Cubs.
Mahomes told media members in Indianapolis that being raised around the world of professional sports has been advantageous on his journey to the pros himself.
"Growing up around professional athletes, I saw how hard they worked – when they got to the big leagues, how hard they worked just to stay there," Mahomes said. "[My father and LaTroy] have really shown me the way to be a professional athlete.
"Being pitchers, they weren't always on-call to pitch, but they were still going up there every single day and working hard to make sure they were ready in case the worst-case scenario happened," Mahomes said. "You have to be ready, you have to throw your extra bullpens, you have to perfect your game every single day."
Mahomes has garnered praise from the experts, including NFL Media's Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks, who placed Mahomes as their fourth- and fifth-ranked quarterback, respectively.
When asked if he feels he can stand out from the rest of the position group, Mahomes said he's just focusing on competing as hard as he can.
"There's a lot of guys that are really good in this class," Mahomes said. "I definitely think I could be [the top]; I have the talent to be. It's going to be all about who wants to work the hardest off the field – the film work, getting your practice exactly how you want it – and that will determine who's the best guy."
Here are a few additional statements from some of the top prospects ranked by Mayock and Brooks:
DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock QB1, Brooks QB1
On how he deals with criticism:"You ignore it. […] Absolutely, it's easy [to ignore]. The academic responsibilities and the football responsibilities give you a lot more to focus in on rather than the criticism that can come from outside that locker room. I think that as a team, we did a really good job through a not-so-good season to ignore that noise outside and looking at one another in that locker room to make sure we were going to focus in on what the mission was, and that was to try to get as many wins as we possibly could."
DeShaun Watson, Clemson
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock QB2, Brooks QB2
On what sets him apart:"I'd just say my past history. Starting back in high school, the way I was raised, coming from the projects home and being able to get out of that. Being the face of college football for two years, handling the success, handling all the criticism and the adversity. And then being 48-8 in high school and winning a state championship and then going to the collegiate level and being 33-3, so one thing that translates from college to the NFL is winners and I think, being a quarterback, that's the biggest thing being recognized, winning games. That's all I've been doing."
On if he deserves to be the No. 1 pick:"It depends on what the team needs. Sometimes they don't need a quarterback, sometimes they do; sometimes they want to go a different direction, or sometimes they feel that this guy's better in their system than another guy. It always just happens [depending] on what the team wants. That's not really the goal, to be the No. 1 pick. I just want to be drafted, hear my name called and have the opportunity to go play."
View images from the first day of player workouts Friday at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock QB3, Brooks QB3
On experts' opinion that no QB in this class is worth a No. 1 pick:"In my opinion, I think it's a very good quarterback class. Me and all the other guys here, we've worked really hard, we've put the work in and I wish everyone the best of luck and I think there's a lot to say for what we've done in our college careers. And who's to say this quarterback class can't be one of the best? Only the future will tell. I think there's a lot of talented guys here, and that's what we're here to show and hopefully it will throughout our careers."
On only having one season as a college starter: "That's a question everybody's asking. I think I definitely have enough experience. I only have 13 starts, but I played in 30 games. I've come in off the bench, and I've seen significant time. I was prepared really well at North Carolina by [quarterbacks Keith Heckendorf], a really good quarterbacks coach, and I've studied the game. I'm a student of the game and I've seen a lot of defenses, and I think that's going to help me. And just my abilities, I feel like I'm in a really good spot right now to take my game to the next level, and I feel really confident."
On how Tar Heels offense prepared him for the NFL:"North Carolina definitely prepared me for the next level, just because it's a quarterback-centric offense, and all the decisions and what happens each and every play goes through the quarterback. We didn't do a lot of audibles, but we did a lot of decision-making on my part. So based on what the defense gave me, that would determine whether it was a run or a pass or a mixture of the two. It did a great job preparing me in that way. I think that has helped me in my decision-making. And I think what I need to do for the next level is just get used to the verbiage and the new offense I'm getting into. So it's going to be a little bit different calling a play in the huddle, but that's something I see that comes naturally, and I have been practicing that and I think it's going to go really well."