Opens up mismatches for teammates with dual-threat nature
Quality wide receiver
Versatile athlete; could stay on the field in a wildcat at QB or WR
Needs to improve his anticipation
Ball security; interceptions and fumbles
Has small hands
Only 19 collegiate starts, 20 games at quarterback
Summary: Tannehill is one of the most hotly debated prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is the consensus third-rated quarterback behind Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Like those two signal-callers, Tannehill is an excellent athlete who has a good arm. He has the physical skill set of a first-round quarterback.
The drawback to Tannehill is a lack of experience. He started out his collegiate career at wide receiver. In Tannehill's interview with WalterFootball.com, he revealed that he always attended the quarterback meetings and was the backup quarterback while playing wide out. However, the Aggies needed Tannehill's athletic ability to contribute to the offense.
Tannehill started out the 2010 season at receiver with 11 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown in six games. He moved to quarterback midway through the year. In his first collegiate start at quarterback, Tannehill completed 36-of-50 passes for 449 yards and four touchdowns with one interception against Texas Tech. He remained the starter from then on. Tannehill made 65 percent of his passes for 1,638 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions in seven games at quarterback in 2010.
As a senior in 2011, Tannehill had some massive games. He also had some bad performances in the second half of contests that contributed to the Aggies blowing big leads, and thereby losing games, to Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Tannehill also threw three interceptions per game against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas. Tannehill completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,744 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for the season. He also ran for 355 yards with four more scores.
Foot surgery kept Tannehill out of the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. He is nearing 100 percent and is working out without restrictions. Tannehill has been getting tutored well by former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. Weinke worked with Cam Newton throughout 2011 during the lockout and helped the Panther quarterback lay the foundation to hit the ground running in the NFL. Newton has returned to IMG this offseason to practice with Weinke and Tannehill.
Aside from Newton, Tannehill got good preparation for the NFL from his former head coach at A&M, Mike Sherman. Tannehill did a good job of running Sherman's West Coast offense. The former Packers head coach Sherman was fired at the end of the season and now is the offensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins. Tannehill looks like a good fit for the West Coast offense in the NFL.
Tannehill has a strong arm with the potential to grow into an accurate passer. The senior also has rare mobility. He still needs to make up for a lot of lost playing time to learn the mental necessities of the position. It may best for Tannehill to be brought along slowly with a lot of practice time before being made the starter.
Steadily, draft pundits are pushing Tannehill into the top half of the first round and the top 10. Many believe that he grades out as a second-round pick, but the demand for quarterbacks in the NFL pushes him into the first round. Tannehill has the physical skill set to be an effective starting quarterback in the NFL.
Player Comparison: Rich Gannon. In watching Tannehill during the 2011 season, I was reminded of Gannon when he was playing well. In his peak years with the Oakland Raiders, Gannon was a force who could rip a defense through the air but also pick up some critical third downs with his feet. Tannehill has a skill set and style like Gannon. If Tannehill lands in the right spot, and is developed well, he could turn into a quarterback who is comparable to the 2002 NFL MVP.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City, Philadelphia
The top two teams that are likely to land Tannehill are the Browns and Dolphins. Both franchises were unable to land a definitive starting quarterback thus far in the offseason. Cleveland tried to trade up for Robert Griffin III, and there have been some rumors that the Miami did as well.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur thinks highly of Tannehill, while Sherman is now the offensive coordinator of the Dolphins. Cleveland could take Tannehill with the fourth-overall pick, but if it passes on him, Miami could grab him with the eighth pick. If Tannehill falls past both the Browns and the Dolphins, Cleveland could consider trading up for him via their pick at No. 22. The Browns also could hope that he makes to that selection.
If the Browns and Dolphins pass on Tannehill, the next team that could select him would be the Chiefs. They don't have a long-term starter and need a difference-maker at quarterback. The Eagles, at No. 15, always look to land quarterback talent. Michael Vick turns 32 this year, so Philadelphia could groom Tannehill for a year or two while Vick finishes out his career. Tannehill would be Andy Reid's ticket to an extension.
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