Is Patrick Mahomes Doomed to Be the New Dan Marino at Super Bowl LIV?

Patrick Mahomes is one win away from ending the Kansas City Chiefs' 50-year wait for a Super Bowl title, less than three years after being selected with the tenth overall pick at the NFL draft.

It's been a long time since a quarterback as young as Mahomes has made an impression this big in his first two seasons.

Lamar Jackson is 16 months younger than the Kansas City star, has had a better regular season than Mahomes and will almost certainly succeed him as the NFL MVP, but he is yet to take the Baltimore Ravens past the divisional round in the postseason.

Mahomes, meanwhile, has taken the Chiefs to two consecutive AFC Championship Games and next week could become the first Kansas City quarterback to hoist the Lombardi Trophy aloft since Len Dawson.

The former Texas Tech alumni will become fifth-youngest quarterback to start a Super Bowl next week. He will be 24 years and 168 days old when the Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

Dan Marino, the first name on that particular list, is arguably the last quarterback who had a similar impact to Mahomes' at the same stage of their respective careers.

The parallels between the two are as plentiful as they are fascinating.

Both players were selected in the first round of the NFL draft, but neither was the first quarterback off the board. In 2017, Mahomes was the 10th overall pick and the second quarterback after the Chicago Bears selected Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick—a decision that might haunt Bears manager Ryan Pace for the rest of the decade.

In 1983, Marino was the penultimate player picked in the first round—which consisted of 28 picks, as opposed to the current 32—and the sixth quarterback off the board.

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after a play in the second half against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19 in Kansas City, Missouri. Tom Pennington/Getty

Despite not making his first start until Week 6 of his debut season, Marino earned a Pro Bowl nomination in his first league campaign, when he also became the only rookie to lead a conference in passing yards.

Mahomes, meanwhile, had to wait until Week 17 of his rookie season to make his first start in the NFL but, like Marino, he took the league by storm in his second year.

In 1984, Marino rewrote the rules for quarterbacks. Still only 23, he threw for 5,084 passing yards and 48 touchdowns. To put those figures into context, the 4,000-yards passing threshold had only been breached for the first time five years earlier and the season-high for touchdowns in 1983 stood at 36.

Both records would remain unbeaten until Peyton Manning threw 49 touchdown passes in 2004 and Drew Brees passed for 5,048 yards seven years later.

Last season, Mahomes became only the second quarterback, along with Manning, to throw at least 50 touchdowns—the latter's record of 53 set in 2013 remains unbeaten—and also passed for over 5,097 yards.

As an aside, Marino's figures are even more incredible, when adjusted to reflect the ever-evolving nature of the NFL.

In 1984 teams averaged 22 passing touchdowns during the season and 3,294 passing yards. Last year, the number of average touchdowns had risen to 26.5 per team, while the number of passing yards had grown to 3,804.

According to Pro-Football-Reference's adjusted net yards per pass attempt index, which is modified to account for the changes in different eras, Marino's 1984 performance adjusted for 2018 average would have read 58 touchdowns and an astonishing 6,247 yards.

The former Pittsburgh student swooped the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and MVP awards in 1984, with Mahomes following suit a year ago.

While the former reached his first Super Bowl in his sophomore season, Mahomes has had to wait until this year to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. Considering the latter only played in Week 17 during his rookie season, however, both quarterbacks have effectively reached the Super Bowl in their first season as starters.

Marino arrived into Super Bowl XIX having thrown for 682 yards and seven touchdowns in two postseason games, while Mahomes enters Super Bowl LIV with 615 passing yards and eight touchdowns to his name in two postseason games this year—he is the first player in NFL playoff history to start his postseason career with at least 10 touchdown passes before his first interception.

The Dolphins had arrived at the Super Bowl as the AFC's No. 1 seed after going 14-2 in the regular season, while the Chiefs went 12-4 en route to finishing second in the AFC.

Then as now the San Francisco 49ers stand between a prodigious quarterback and the Lombardi Trophy.

While Marino donned Dolphins' white instead of the Chiefs' red that has become synonymous with Mahomes, the latter's first Super Bowl appearance will come in Miami, the city where the former spent his entire NFL career.

The Chiefs and Mahomes, however, will hope that's where the parallels between him and Marino end.

Dan Marino, Super Bowl XIX
Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins during Super Bowl XIX against the San Francisco 49ers at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California on January 20, 1985. The Dolphins lost 38-16 and Marino never reached another Super Bowl again. Sylvia Allen/Getty

The latter threw one touchdown and two interceptions as the Dolphins lost 38-16 to the 49ers in Stanford, California and what was expected to be the first of many Super Bowl appearances proved to be Marino's solitary trip to the Big Game.

Additionally, the Super Bowl is a traditionally hostile environment for young quarterbacks making their debut in the NFL championship game.

Of the four quarterbacks who were younger than Mahomes when they played their first Super Bowl, Ben Roethlisberger is the only one who ended the night holding the Lombardi Trophy.

Roethlisberger was 25 days shy of his 24th birthday when guided the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL, while David Woodley tasted defeat in Super Bowl XVII at the age of 24 years and 97 days and Jared Goff was 24 years and 112 days when the Los Angeles Rams lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII last season.