Garrett Riley will laugh if you ask him whether Shane Buechele is ready for this moment. That’s not to insinuate that the rookie quarterback faces a significant learning curve; in fact, Riley means the exact opposite.
“Heck, he’s probably more mature than I am.”
Buechele is the newest face in the quarterbacks room at Arrowhead Stadium as a rookie free agent signing for the K.C. Chiefs. The team has Patrick Mahomes atop the depth chart with veteran Chad Henne close behind. But after signing Buechele following the 2021 NFL Draft out of Southern Methodist University, the team decided to release Jordan Ta’amu to help clear up the competition for QB3. Only Anthony Gordon remains on the current roster alongside Buechele.
Riley, who serves as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the SMU Mustangs last season, said he was directly contacted by “five or six teams” about Buechele in the pre-draft process and that a number of calls came in toward the end of the draft from franchises hoping to get the scoop on who else was involved and where h might go. “There was a lot of attention he was getting behind the scenes for sure,” he says.
We spoke with SMU O.C. Garrett Riley about new Chiefs quarterback Shane Buechele.
In the end, the Chiefs won out by not only paying him a solid bonus but providing an excellent opportunity to learn from the best young quarterback in the game and a head coach known for his offensive genius. It was the very scenario that Riley said he encouraged Buechele to chase when giving him any pre-draft advice.
“He got trained up so well with Jordan Palmer, so he was well versed on the opportunities that would probably come up and Plan Bs and those things for him,” said Riley in an interview with Arrowhead Addict. “What I could give was to tell him to pray for a great situation, to say, ‘Whether you get drafted or it goes to the free agent world, you need to cross your fingers to get into a great situation.’ I think he definitely is. He’s gonna bring a lot to the table.
“So that was my advice but he already knew that. He understands. He gets big picture things, so he knew he only needed one team to give him a shot.”
Buechele enters the NFL with a lot of pros as a quarterback prospect, a player praised for his intelligence and patience, accuracy and instincts. What he’s missing is the big arm strength and physical stature that turns the heads of scouts. Riley leaned into the pro comparisons that often come up with Buechele when describing his potential at the NFL level.
“For people who are unfamiliar with him, there are comparisons to good pros and backup quarterbacks who’ve been in that league for a long time. I think he’s right up there with those guys, the Chase Daniels of the world, the Colt McCoys of the world.
“I really do believe, though, he’s got some arm talent and some anticipation and some of those skills for quarterbacks are things he really excels at. Something that people don’t fully realize with him is that he’s a really talented passer. He’s very accurate. As I said, his anticipation is really good. I think that’s gonna translate very well for him at the pro level.”
Buechele weighed in at 6’0 and 210 lbs. this spring, a bit undersized for the NFL, and isn’t known as a mobile quarterback. But Riley says the metrics can keep a guy like Buechele from being appreciated for what he can bring to the table for the Chiefs.
“The first thing you’re going to look at is some of the metric stuff and things you can quantify. That’s where you’re going to start in college and that’s the same with the pro level,” he said.
“But listen, it’s obvious the pro game is changing and you’re seeing more guys that aren’t the prototypical size. You’re seeing guys who are more ready than they were 15 years ago, who come straight from college and they’re ready to open it up in some of these offenses you’re seeing now much like the one in Kansas City. People are being trained better and more consistently and those things make a big difference. I think the things he brings to the table will outdo some of the metrics that people tend to look at initially.”
Buechele has already dealt with some hurdles when it comes to fighting for his chance on the field. He began his college career as a high-profile recruit who set freshman records at the University of Texas. However, after losing his job to Sam Ehlinger, who also came out in this draft class, Buechele transferred to SMU where he helped a program rebound while dealing with coaching turnover. Perhaps that’s why Riley believes the Chiefs will love what they have in Buechele under center and in the locker room.
“This guy is going to adapt. He’s going to excel mentally. He’s going to be a leader and a great teammate—all the things you want at that position. Honestly I really do just think him being in a system that can bring out all of his strengths, I really think he’ll excel there. He can throw on the run even though he’s not a runner. He’s good in the pocket. He can anticipate with the best of them.
“The thing with him is going to be getting used to some of the true play actions and all the things you see at the pro level a little bit more than you see them at the college level. I wouldn’t worry about him one bit about transitioning to an NFL offense. I think some of what the NFL does will help him and even bring out the best of him. I really do believe that.”