Ryan Tannehill has vaulted up the boards faster than any other player during the 2012 NFL draft madness leading up to April 26th. He's moved so fast that Colts owner Jim Irsay thinks Tannehill is the "hidden gem" of the entire draft, even suggesting that the Cleveland Browns should look to get the No. 3 pick from the Minnesota Vikings for Tannehill.
Although the true quarterback talent level behind overall consensus selection Nos. 1 and 2—Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III—is murky, Tannehill is not the only QB with a chance to be a great starter.
Tannehill might have the raw skills and knowledge to be a successful NFL QB. His head coach—Mike Sherman—has experience at both levels and is joining the Miami Dolphins as the offensive coordinator this season, leading some to believe Miami could be a likely landing spot for Tannehill at No. 8.
However, three things raise questions about his ability to be a winner at the next level: his career record (12-7), completion percentage in 2012 (61.5), and total collapse down the stretch in Texas A&M's late losses to Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Kansas State.
While he is certainly a talent, the lack of a clear-cut favorite behind Tannehill has certainly helped his stock rise. There is a slew of other talented prospects behind the former Aggie, some with the right tools for a better NFL career than Tannehill, and they are not named Luck or Griffin.
Nick Foles - Arizona
Foles is a physical specimen at 6'5" and 243 lbs. He has the arm strength and the career pedigree (over 4,300 yards and a 69.1 percent completion percentage) to be a very solid passer along the lines of Tom Brady and other tall QBs.
He hasn't had the best tools, like many other guys have at their schools, and yet he fared very well at the Senior Bowl against the best of the best, throwing for 136 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-15 passing.
What he lacks in mobility, he makes up for with a great arm, and if his draft stock stays in the mid-to-late rounds as it currently stands, he could be one of the best value players taken in the entire draft.
Kellen Moore - Boise State
Say what you want about Kellen Moore. He played in an inferior conference. He played against weaker talent. He isn't tall enough to play the position.
These are all things I'm sure Moore has heard during this process.
But I have a feeling Moore is motivated by people counting him out. You don't complete nearly 70 percent of your college throws and not have some talent. He also had a 5-to-1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, carving apart defenses with precision and a knowledge of where his receivers are going to be.
In the NFL, I think Moore will likely spend a few seasons on the bench. But his knowledge of defenses and penchant for pinpoint accuracy will get him off the bench and into the fire sooner than later, and the man who only had three losses in college will bring an important trait with him to the NFL—winning.
Kirk Cousins - Michigan State
Cousins is a four-year player. He ran a pro-style system, where he had to maximize his throws because he knew his chances to help win games were going to come down to his arm.
He's also directly responsible for the resurgence of the Michigan State program. Sure, Michigan's demise helped, but Cousins led one of the more efficient offenses for three consecutive seasons to the tune of an 11-3 record during his senior campaign.
Cousins is also blessed with good size—at 6'3", 214 lbs—and according to Jon Gruden, he has the tools to be very successful in the NFL. Cousins could be an attractive option for a team with a set starter, so he likely won't have to come in and be "the guy" right away.
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