Even though Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill has only 19 college starts at quarterback and could not work out at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, NFL draft analysts Mike Mayock and Todd McShay expect to see him taken in the top 10 of April’s draft.
Both Mayock, of the NFL Network, and McShay, of ESPN, had Tannehill ranked as the third-best quarterback in the draft prior to the combine and both believed he could have been chosen late in the first round. But their opinions of Tannehill have improved since the combine.
Last Saturday, Tannehill spoke at the combine, discussing his recovery from a broken foot. The following day, Mayock was asked for his opinion on how high in the draft the quarterback would go.
“I think Tannehill, even though he can’t work out, as long as he takes care through the process, shows people he can throw, what an athlete he is, Tannehill might go in the top-10,” he said. “Everybody’s kind of thinking ‘which team can go get [Baylor QB Robert Griffin III]?’ In my head, I’m already slotting them a little bit 1-2 and wondering where Tannehill might end up because of how high [Christian] Ponder and [Jake] Locker went a year ago.”
McShea came away from the combine thinking the same thing.
In yesterday’s pre-draft podcast with Mel Kiper, McShay said, “I think the most underrated player – maybe in the entire draft right now – is Ryan Tannehill. … Tannehill is just, to me, steady, sturdy lower body, smooth delivery, accurate, and the only thing he needs to answer, and teams need to figure out...is how did he, under his watch, allow Texas A&M to lose five games in which they had leads. That’s the whole thing.”
McShay wondered if those late-game collapses had more to do with a lack of leadership on Tannehill’s part, or a lack of execution by him or his teammates. Regardless of that, he concluded, “Tannehill’s a top-10 pick.”
For as much as he likes Tannehill and his potential, however, Mayock doesn’t see the 6-foot-4, 222-pounder as ready to take over as a starter right away.
“Tannehill has 19 starts, and he’s a former wide receiver,” Mayock said. “I can see all the attributes of a Locker in Tannehill. He’s a big, strong kid that can push the ball down the field. He’s athletic. I like everything about him except for the fact that on tape, I think he stares his receivers down and waits for them to come up before he rips it. That’s typical of a young quarterback without a lot of starts. I look at him and say kind of like Jake Locker. He’s going to take a little bit of time. It’s going to take a year or so. Nineteen starts is not a lot of starts for a college quarterback.”
Tannehill as a top 10 pick jibes with what we’ve heard about Tannehill as a contingency plan for the Redskins (who pick sixth overall) and the Dolphins (eighth overall) if they are unsuccessful in trading up for Griffin.
And the need for further development is a reason why the team that selects him likely would pick up a veteran quarterback in free agency as well.
Only 56 more days — and about another 1,594 scenarios to mull over — until the draft!
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