NFL Draft 2012: A Closer Look at Ryan Tannehill and the Cleveland Browns

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IMarch 6, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates a touchdown against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Cowboys Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The 2012 NFL Draft is growing closer by the day and the questions surrounding the Cleveland Browns draft plans are far from clear at this point in the draft process. Experts and Browns fans around the nation have had a hard time keeping Cleveland and Robert Griffin III out of the same sentence, while the team is supposedly exchanging trade proposals with the St.Louis Rams for the second overall pick.

Griffin would be the obvious choice if the Browns were to move to the second overall selection. However, the Browns are not the only team looking to trade up in draft position and one would have to wonder what the backup plan for Cleveland may be if the team remains steady with their two current first-round selections.

Ryan Tannehill would be a good option for the Browns if they could not land Griffin or sign a free agent quarterback before the NFL draft. Reports from recent weeks have indicated that the Browns have been impressed with Tannehill throughout the scouting process and many draft analysts feel that Tannehill has what it takes to be considered a top draft pick. The Rotowire Magazine annual mock draft even went as far as to place Tannehill as the sixth overall selection to the Washington Redskins (Cleveland was mocked to trade up).

According to head coach Pat Shurmur (via NBC Sports), Tannehill is a "Very intelligent young man. (He) Did a nice job in the interview. It’s important in the interview that they’re able to talk about what they did when we watch their film, and I thought he did a very nice job of that. He was very productive this year after being a receiver. He played receiver for 30 games and quarterback for 21. That’s not always easy to do.”

Tannehill's production as a quarterback is slightly surprising when considering that he was not recruited as a signal caller out of high school. Many players do not change positions throughout their college years and it is very rare to see a player switch to play the quarterback position.

Throughout his college career at Texas A & M, Tannehill was the quarterback for only two seasons and threw over 5,000 yards and 42 touchdowns. He also rushed for nearly 400 yards and five scores.

Scouts say that Tannehill may have the best football instincts behind Andrew Luck, and has a very quick release of the football. Tannehill is also one of the best quarterbacks at looking off defenses and has good size for an NFL quarterback ( 6'4, 220-230 pounds)

However, he lacks arm strength and has a bit of an awkward throwing motion that may become problematic at the NFL level. Also, the fact that Tannehill only started 19 games in college is considered a red flag to some NFL scouts.

The thing that could make Tannehill so intriguing is the fact that his time spent as a wide receiver could help him read routes and coverages even better than the average quarterback.

Also, Tannehill had some of his best college games competing against top competition. Tannehill even out-dueled Griffin last season when the Aggies beat Baylor by a score of 55-28. Tannehill passed for 451 yards in that game and connected on six touchdown passes.

The Browns are certainly going to make a move at the quarterback position at some point this year and Tannehill is just another option the team may choose to turn to in the coming weeks. Cleveland still has Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, and Thaddeus Lewis on the active roster, but will likely choose to move one of them upon the arrival of another quarterback.