J Pat Carter/Associated Press
Out of every quarterback who has yet to ascend to the rarefied air of stardom, the one with the best chance to get there in 2014 is Miami Dolphins signal-caller Ryan Tannehill.
Last season he threw 24 touchdown passes against only 17 interceptions and brought the Dolphins to the cusp of a playoff berth, despite an offensive line that allowed a league-high 58 sacks. When you couple the fact that the offensive line resembled a moldy piece of Swiss cheese with the Bullygate scandal that rocked the NFL, it's a miracle that Tannehill performed so well.
Yes, he failed to impress in the team's final two games, when one win against inferior competition (the Bills and Jets) would have earned a postseason berth, but that can be chalked up to a young passer's introductory experience in a playoff race. Plus, as previously noted, the offensive line was dreadful throughout.
Thankfully for Tannehill, the Dolphins improved the line this offseason, signing tackle Branden Albert, acquiring guard Shelley Smith and spending a first-round pick on tackle Ja'Wuan James. The injury to center Mike Pouncey hurts—especially if he misses half the season, as Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald recently reported—but the talent level on the line is still exponentially better than in 2013.
Then there's new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who came to South Beach after a year as Eagles quarterbacks coach under Chip Kelly. His offense should be much more exciting than that of the deposed Mike Sherman, and if Nick Foles' play last year was any indication, Tannehill could be in line for big things this fall.
Tannehill has weapons at the skill positions (highlighted by receiver Mike Wallace), an improved offensive line and a heralded new offensive coordinator. He is also entering Year 3 of his NFL career. He's set for a big-time season.
For more on why Tannehill is a player to watch, check out this piece from Bleacher Report's Cian Fahey.