With Luck and RGIII set as locks in this year’s draft, pundits are hyping up other future NFL players in order to stir up a little excitement. Not a single player has benefited from bored, sensationalist beat writers than Ryan Tannehill. Originally projected to be a mid to late second-round pick, Tannehill climbed to a top-10 pick across the board in recent weeks. He undoubtedly had an impressive pro day, and he clearly has a special, physical skill set, but does he deserve to be the Dolphin’s pick at No. 8?
Well, he’s a mobile, decently accurate quarterback with a fast release and great footwork. His passer rating and TD-INT ratio in college was pretty good, but not elite. Tannehill even fits the prototypical “mold” in terms of size and arm strength that NFL scouts covet. Unfortunately, he is also extremely raw, only starting 19 games. He would most likely have to sit at least the majority of this year (and possibly even two or three years) before taking the field. Most first-round picks are expected to start right away as “impact players,” especially those that are in the top 10.
However, many will argue that quarterback has become a “reach” position. Even if he’s raw, his upside and the overall value of the quarterback position in today’s pass-happy league make him worth a high first-round pick. Jamarcus Russell was picked first overall. Mark Sanchez was also selected in the first round. So were Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker. The consensus: you want your franchise quarterback, go get him. Unfortunately, this rarely — if ever — pans out. Although the jury is still out on some of these players, the likelihood that they will become a top 10 or top five quarterback is slim.
Some will connect the dots and claim that the Tannehill-Sherman combo would be a slam dunk. Sure he’s raw, but he’s already played in his system. It could help accelerate his learning curve. There are a couple of faults with this assumption. First, there is no guarantee that the system will stay exactly the same — though, truth be told, it probably will be somewhat similar. However, perhaps more importantly, Tannehill’s performance and his grasp of the offense is what got Sherman fired in the first place. Thankfully Sherman has proven to be a great OC over several years, but the same can’t be said about Tannehill.
My favorite opinion, and the one that I find to be the most unfounded, is that A) QB is the greatest need and B) Tannehill will be a better option than Matt Moore — a “mediocre” QB.
Let’s start with A. In order to have a successful team, GMs have to fill their glaring holes by building through the draft (and subsequently avoid FA unless they can come away with a steal). Most of the top teams nail the draft by selecting the best players available while, at the same, attacking players of need. The media constantly targets QB as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, needs the Dolphins organization has to address.
Unfortunately, the top QB prospects are gone and there are much better prospects (that would fill another, perhaps more important, need) at the No. 8 pick. Moreover, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Tannehill. After watching tape, I feel like he’s not an elite prospect—even though he has great physical skills — and the only reason he’s risen up draft boards is because of recent draft trends. Of course it’s a possibility that he turns into a stud—think Brady, Romo, etc—but that can be said about most players, and it is the exception, not the norm.
What should the Dolphins do with Tannehill?
Now, let’s tackle B. Most Dolfans think we have a need at QB because Matt Moore is just a mediocre, Band-Aid quarterback. I believe they are right, for the most part. If Dolfans want a real winner in Miami not named the Miami Heat, Miami Marlins, or even the Florida Panthers, the Dolphins definitely need an elite QB. I’m not sure if Tannehill is elite. Moreover, I’m not even sure if he’s better than Matt Moore.
That’s because Matt Moore is not a mediocre quarterback. He is a good QB. In fact, he is—depending where you look—either a top third (Quarterback Rating) or top 10 quarterback in the NFL (ninth according to ProFootballFocus). That’s better than Cam Newton, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick. It’s also better than, according to PFF, Matt Schaub, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford.
That's right. Cam Newton. Last year's first overall pick and "rookie phenomenon."
The only way the Dolphins should sign Tannehill at No. 8 is if they are certain that they can get an elite top-five QB: a true difference-maker. I believe he could become an elite QB in time, but chances are that he probably won’t and that risk is too high. There are too many holes on this team and grabbing a developmental QB, no matter what his projected ceiling is, would be a huge mistake for the Dolphins. If they are enamored with Tannehill, they can still get him if they trade down - and address other needs with extra picks.
That's right folks. As of right now, Matt Moore is a better option than Tannehill. I think they should trade down and draft him at a later first-round pick, not draft a QB until much later, or trade up next year to draft one of the elite prospects.