King: Titans' Ryan Tannehill Naturally Will Mentor Malik Willis Despite 'Job' Comment

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 9, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 22: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans throws a first quarter pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Nissan Stadium on January 22, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Peter King thinks Ryan Tannehill's comments about not mentoring Malik Willis are much ado about nothing.

"I know Tannehill a bit. He's going to be a very good teammate to Willis," King wrote in his NBC Sports column. "He's a good person. Of course he's right that he doesn't have to mentor Willis. But naturally, he will."

Tannehill made headlines last week when he told reporters he doesn't plan to actively mentor Willis, whom the Titans selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

"That's part of being in a quarterback room, in the same room—we're competing against each other, we're watching the same tape, we're doing the same drills," Tannehill said. "I don't think it's my job to mentor him. But if he learns from me along the way, then that's a great thing."

While Tannehill's comments were polarizing, he is 100 percent right that it's not his job to mentor Willis. Nor should it be. Tannehill is just 33 years old. He likely believes he has at least a half-decade of quality football remaining in his career. The Titans are due to pay him $56 million over the next two seasons in base salary.

There is, from a purely logical perspective, no incentive for Tannehill to come in and mentor a cost-controlled youngster who could wind up taking his job.

It's not as if Tannehill is standing on the firmest ground heading into 2022. He threw more interceptions last season alone (14) than he did in his first 28 games with the Titans (13). Tennessee also lost a three-point game to the Cincinnati Bengals in the postseason that saw Tannehill throw three more picks. It's fair to say the Titans win that game—and potentially the AFC, given the Bengals' Super Bowl run—if Tannehill simply avoided mistakes.

If Tannehill were in his late 30s and at the end of his career, it may be more understandable to expect him to take Willis under his wing. As it stands, Tannehill heads into next season playing to keep his own starting job.

Perhaps that makes Willis better by the sheer competition factor in the end, and King notes that Tannehill's good nature will also play a factor. That said, it would be understandable if Tannehill came into camp more determined than ever to prove he can still be the Titans' franchise quarterback.