9 Reasons Why Ryan Tannehill Will Be Best QB in 2012 Class
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
Those two names will define the 2012 NFL draft.
Or will they?
Tannehill is stepping into a better situation than both Luck and Griffin, and there's no telling how good this raw quarterback can become.
Tannehill Has Only Scratched the Surface of His Potential
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Every scouting report on Ryan Tannehill offers caveats about his inexperience and rawness. Tannehill only played quarterback for two seasons at Texas A&M, leaving him significantly less polished, or "pro ready" than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin.
Quarterbacks with Tannehill's track record rarely even warrant first-round consideration, and it's scary to think that the Dolphins just mortgaged so much of their future on a mostly unproven player.
But consider how high Tannehill's ceiling is.
And consider how impressive Tannehill's transition from wide receiver to quarterback is. Not only did Tannehill make a seamless transition, he established himself as one of college football's best quarterbacks in just two seasons.
Tannehill grew exponentially in those two years, so just imagine how much he can grow over these next few seasons.
Preexisting Relationship with Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman
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There's no scientific method capable of explaining why some quarterbacks excel and why some fail in the NFL. How does a brilliant collegiate quarterback like Akili Smith fizzle, while an average quarterback like Tom Brady soars?
Circumstance. It's all about circumstance.
So long as a quarterback is dedicated and passionate about football (unlike Jamarcus Russell), then he has the potential to be great. But sometimes the circumstances are just not right. Akili Smith was rushed into a starting role on a talentless, poorly coached team; Tom Brady developed behind a stud veteran and fit perfectly into Bill Belichick's genius offense.
Ryan Tannehill has entered the perfect situation thanks in large part to Mike Sherman.
Sherman was Tannehill's head coach at Texas A&M, so the duo won't have to waste time getting comfortable with each other. Sherman knows Tannehill's idiosyncrasies, he knows his personalities, he knows his weaknesses, and he knows his strengths.
Familiarity with the West Coast Offense and the Dolphins Playbook
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When Ryan Tannehill arrived at Dolphins minicamp in early May, he told reporters that he's already familiar with "roughly 85 percent" of the playbook.
Rather than spend his summer learning Miami's playbook, Tannehill will master it. This doesn't mean he will successfully execute plays on the field, but it gives him a significant leg up on most rookie quarterbacks.
Learning the terminology and concepts of encyclopedia-sized NFL playbooks is one of the biggest obstacles rookies face, but Tannehill can focus his efforts on translating his knowledge to on field success.
Joe Philbin's Midas Touch with Quarterbacks
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Philbin dealt with Rodgers and Flynn on a daily basis, and he designed game plans that catered perfectly to their respective skills.
Even if Philbin wasn't completely hands-on with their development, he knows the Packers' methods, and he can impart them on Ryan Tannehill. Plus, Philbin saw firsthand how beneficial patience is, so he won't play Tannehill until he's ready.
A Young, Promising and Improving Supporting Cast
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This isn't the case for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins, though.
Granted, the Dolphins don't have any outstanding wide receivers. But they do have three very capable ones (Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Legedu Naanee), accompanied by a slew of youngsters who could become productive players (Roberto Wallace, Marlon Moore, Julius Pruitt, Clyde Gates, B.J. Cunningham, Rishard Matthews, Jeff Fuller).
The Dolphins also added matchup-nightmare Michael Egnew and the freakishly athletic Lamar Miller to their arsenal through the draft. And, of course, don't forget about Reggie Bush, whose uncanny versatility can make any quarterback's job easier.
Andrew Luck's Dismal Supporting Cast
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If Ryan Tannehill is to become the best quarterback from the 2012 draft class, then he'll have to outshine Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Admittedly, Luck and Griffin are far more polished and skilled than Tannehill, but neither has equivalent advantages.
This is especially true for Andrew Luck.
The Colts completely gutted their roster this summer, leaving it entirely devoid of proven talent. Indy began its rebuilding process by adding Luck and a pair of highly touted tight ends, but it'll take a few years for that team to present a formidable offense.
While Luck presumably struggles with his supporting cast, Tannehill could be leading the Dolphins to the playoffs.
Robert Griffin III's Bust Potential
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Everybody loves Robert Griffin III. Subsequently, nobody is talking about his bust potential.
This is what a few NFL execs and scouts had to say about RG3 back in December—before he vaulted into the hearts of football fans nationwide.
"They don't call plays in the huddle. They walk to the line, the play comes from upstairs to the sideline, and it's signaled in," said one NFC executive. "The coordinator upstairs is reading the defense, (Griffin) is not doing that at all. And in the NFL, you're going to have to be the one reading the defense. You have to know what's going on at all times. And you have to get him under center, taking 3-, 5- and 7-step drops."
"That offense made things simple on him," said the scout. "Because he's such a running threat, he saw soft coverage, you didn't see defensive ends bending the corner to get him. They played him different to keep him in the pocket, and as a result, he got passing lanes he may not get in the pros. It's a problem, because he's got average-to-below-average size. The Vick comparison is there, because you figure he'll miss games (due to injury), but you can't tell him not to run, because that's what makes him special."
The scout continued that, "There's gonna be a significant development period. Him moreso than anyone. You can't fault him for what they didn't ask him to do. I think he's capable of it. But it's natural as a talent evaluator to want to see it."
Of course, Ryan Tannehill has equivalent, if not greater bust potential. But, assuming Tannehill pans out, there's a chance he'll emerge as a better quarterback than Griffin.
The Dolphins Offensive Line Could Soon Be Elite
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The Dolphins offensive line has been in flux, since...well, I honestly don't remember the last time it wasn't. Maybe 2008? Anyway, Jeff Ireland is slowly rectifying this longstanding issue, and it could have immeasurable benefits for Ryan Tannehill.
Jake Long and Mike Pouncey should both be fixtures on the offensive line for the foreseeable future, and, hopefully, Jonathan Martin will realize his All-Pro potential.
All that's left for Ireland to do is find upgrades at both guard spots, though there's still some hope—however slim—that John Jerry will pan out.
Tannehill Will Get to Sit and Learn Behind Two Established Veterans
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Although the Dolphins are technically hosting a three-way quarterback competition, Ryan Tannehill only has a minute chance of winning it.
Rather than toss Tannehill into the gauntlet, the Dolphins will relegate Tannehill to clipboard duties. This way, Tannehill can observe and grasp the NFL game, learn from David Garrard and Matt Moore and continue to hone his skills.
Garrard and Moore might not relish mentor roles, but they will impart invaluable wisdom to Tannehill.