Entering the 2011 NFL draft, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert were projected to go in the first round, and Jake Locker and Christian Ponder were expected to hear their names called early in the second round.
The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings pulled off surprise moves, however, taking Locker eighth and Ponder 12th, respectively.
In this year’s draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are locks to go in the top 5, and many have predicted that another quarterback won’t come off the board until the second round.
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock disagrees, and believes that this year’s surprise first-round quarterback will be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill.
As covered in yesterday’s blog post, Tannehill hasn’t been able to display his talents this offseason because of a broken foot, and because of that, he has been projected to go in the second round. He missed the Senior Bowl, and won’t be able to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine next week.
But regardless, Mayock believes that the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Tannehill – who hopes to throw on March 3 at Texas A&M’s pro day – very well could go in the first round.
“He’s got everything you want,” Mayock said in a pre-combine conference call on Wednesday. “He’s got size, he’s got arm strength, really good athlete. All you have to do is look at his tape as a wide receiver two years ago. He’s a big, fast kid with a really good arm.”
The Redskins hold the sixth overall pick in the draft, and it’ll be interesting to see how they grade out Tannehill. Yesterday, we talked about how if they can’t get up to No. 2 to take Robert Griffin III, Mike Shanahan & co. could possibly use the No. 6 pick on another need area and take Tannehill in the second round.
However, if Washington’s brass believes Tannehill is worthy of a mid -to late first-round pick, it certainly could trade down from No. 6 to gain more picks – similar to last season – and take Tannehill later in the first round of the draft.
Although impressed with Tannehill, Mayock – himself a former quarterback – sees room for improvement.
“What I don’t like about him, is he waits for routes to develop before he throws the football,” Mayock says. “In other words, he lacks anticipations, and because of that he throws late into coverage and makes mistakes. Now, that’s not atypical for a young quarterback in college football, particularly one that has only about a year-and-a-half of starting under his belt. He hasn’t started as many games as I’d like to see from a typical first-round NFL quarterback. Typically, you’d like to see 25 minimal starting assignments. But I think he’s going to be a first-round guy.”