Dark-horse Chiefs rookie is Patrick Mahomes’ new Kareem Hunt
Since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over as the Kansas City Chiefs starter in 2018, the Chiefs offense hasn’t ranked lower than sixth in the league in points scored or total yards. However, if there is one weakness on Mahomes’ side of the ball in KC, it’s at the running back position.
After several years of trying — and failing — to find a back to fill Kareem Hunt’s shoes, reports out of Chiefs training camp suggest the club might have finally found their man. Seventh-round pick out of Rutgers, Isiah Pacheco, is drawing rave reviews and can quickly move up the Chiefs depth chart.
Isiah Pacheco is drawing Kareem Hunt comparisons in Chiefs training camp
In 2018, it looked like Kareem Hunt and Patrick Mahomes would be the long-term QB/RB pairing in the Chiefs backfield. That all changed when video of Hunt getting into a physical altercation with a woman emerged after the season. Another allegation of assault followed, and the Chiefs swiftly released Hunt.
The NFL ultimately suspended the running back right games after he signed with the Cleveland Browns.
After Hunt’s release, the Chiefs tried to fill the void with all types of backs. Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Spencer Ware, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Le’Veon Bell, and Derrick Gore all had double-digit-carry seasons over the next three years.
None of these backs were able to equal or best Hunt’s 824 rushing yards from 2018, though.
As Andy Reid and company look to makeover the Chiefs offense in 2022 after the departure of Tyreek Hill, the team may have finally found its new franchise RB, based on recent Chiefs training camp reports.
After visiting Chiefs training camp in early August, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer had high praise for the organization’s seventh-round pick out of Rutgers, Isiah Pacheco.
Breer called Pacheco a “name to watch” in 2022. He also said that at “216 lbs w/4.3 speed,” the runner “is lighting up camp.” The NFL insider also noted the Pacheco “Got Kareem Hunt traits,” but also has “a gear Hunt didn’t have.”
🧵 5 from @Chiefs 🧵
1) Name to watch: Isiah Pacheco. 7th-round RB (216 lbs w/4.3 speed) is lighting up camp. Got Kareem Hunt traits, a gear Hunt didn't have.
2) Juan Thornhill is healthy/showing versatility to play old Mathieu role. Hope is he & Justin Reid = interchangeable.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 3, 2022
Pacheco was the 22nd and final RB selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. His draft scouting report on NFL.com called the 23-year-old New Jersey native a “hard-charging, high-energy runner with three-down size.” It also noted that “Pacheco plays the game like a race car with no brakes.”
Now that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense have lost their three-down back in Hunt and their race car with no brakes in Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs training camp reports make Isiah Pacheco sound exactly like the type of player the team needs in 2022.
The former Scarlett Knight’s path to the RB1 of the Chiefs depth chart won’t be easy, though. The Chiefs training camp RB field is incredibly crowded.
Edwards-Helaire, Gore, Ronald Jones Jr., Jerick McKinnon, Jerrion Ealy, and Tayon Fleet-Davis are all competing for spots on the Chiefs depth chart.
What Pacheco has going for him in this positional battle at Chiefs training camp is that the team and its fans know who most of these players are. Edwards-Helaire is talented but not that durable or dependable. Gore and Jones are solid but by no means spectacular. McKinnon is a nice pass-catcher, and Ealy and Fleet-Davis were likely undrafted for a reason.
With Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs will surely have a high-powered offense again in 2022. If Isiah Pacheco can break out and become the new Kareem Hunt, though, it could add the exact dynamic the Chiefs offense needs to get back to the top of the league and maybe even back to the Super Bowl.