Breaking Down Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins

Alen Dumonjic@@Dumonjic_AlenContributor IIMay 1, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26:  Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M holds up a jersey as he stands on stage after he was selected #8 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of during the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

After years of acquiring backup quarterbacks and hoping they turn into gold, the Miami Dolphins ended a 29-year drought by selecting a first-round quarterback last Thursday.

The franchise selected Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill No. 8 overall in the draft, which simply had to be done because general manager Jeff Ireland was starting to feel the pressure from all angles—from reportedly the owner to the revolting fans.

Tannehill was largely viewed as the third-best quarterback in the draft after Luck and Griffin III, but many contrasted on the value of the signal-caller. Was he worth a first round pick? Or was he best served a second-rounder?

Ultimately, the Dolphins decided the former when Ireland got "enamored last August" and he made it official last week. Ireland worked closely with Tannehill's former coach Mike Sherman in deciding to pick him while also looking to run the choice by newly hired head coach Joe Philbin. 

Philbin made it known he had some of his own things that he looked for in quarterbacks when he met with Finsiders Radio shortly after being hired.

According to the Sun-Sentinel's Mike Berardino, Philbin explained that he has eight different characteristics that he looks for in his quarterbacks: decision-making, accuracy, velocity, mobility, competitiveness, football intelligence, game management and pocket presence. 

However, one could say that based on Tannehill's college game tape, some of these characteristics were not met, namely decision-making. 

Tannehill has a tendency to make bad decisions in games, as seen against Oklahoma State. He attempted a touch pass into what initially appeared to be an open window, but it turned into triple coverage when the squat corner played the flats soft and undercut the throw. This was only one example of many bad decisions that resulted in an interception or an inaccurate pass.

Tannehill feels pressure and throws a poor pass off-balance and into coverage. (snapshot courtesy of videos)
Tannehill feels pressure and throws a poor pass off-balance and into coverage. (snapshot courtesy of videos)

On the other hand, a case can be made for Tannehill also having multiple preferred characteristics of Philbin, such as velocity and mobility. 

The quarterback has a very strong arm, and thus is able to make the requisite throws in effort to execute multiple passing concepts that are introduced by Sherman and Philbin.

He also is very mobile and can move the pocket, which allows for more freedom in schematic design, such as boot actions and zone read options that were seen with the Panthers' Cam Newton last season.

The boot action concept is a bootleg that features the quarterback faking the handoff to the ball carrier on what's often a designed outside running play, and then is able to run it himself or throw it to what's likely a crossing route coming to the same side of the field.

Meanwhile, the zone read option (pictured) is different from the boot action as it is a designed running play that has the quarterback reading the back-side unblocked defender (usually an end), and deciding whether to keep the ball or hand it off to the back. 

This is decided by the reaction of the defender, who can either set the edge and contain or crash down on the running back. If the former is done, the quarterback hands the ball off while the latter sees the quarterback take it himself to the vacated area as the snapshot illustrates.

Tannehill keeps the ball when the end crashes and runs for a 65-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State. (snapshot courtesy of videos)
Tannehill keeps the ball when the end crashes and runs for a 65-yard touchdown against Oklahoma State. (snapshot courtesy of videos)

Those are the kind of plays that could potentially see him starting in his rookie season despite having two veterans competing with him. Tannehill is likely already comfortable with some of the playbook because of his connection with former coach Mike Sherman, and if the competition is too close to call, the quarterback usually gets the nod. 

Despite that, it's likely best that Tannehill sits in his first season to learn the game and improve fundamentally. He had a tendency to not rotate his hips on passes, which led to a reduction in his velocity and consequently poorly thrown passes. These issues can be fixed through coaching, which is a positive for the Dolphins and gives Tannehill great upside.