2015 NFL DRAFT

Team that takes Tannehill in top 12 is really rolling the dice

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
Before I attempt to argue why a quarterback I like shouldn't be drafted in the top half of the first round, let me point out that I gave Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill, a first-round grade prior to the 2011 season, a first-round grade halfway through the season and a first-round grade now. Frankly, there isn't a player in the country I've watched more tape on than Tannehill in the past calendar year, which is why my grade hasn't fluctuated on him like it has for others.

The simple fact is Tannehill boasts all of the physical characteristics that every team is looking for at quarterback. He's big, athletic, strong-armed and shows the ability to make every NFL throw. I've watched him fire the deep out from the opposite hash, show beautiful touch to lay the ball over the linebacker and under the safety and give the pump fake to force the safety to bite before driving the ball downfield ondeep combo routes. He can roll to either direction and throw accurately on the move. He has the guts and speed to be a threat scrambling. Having started 19 games at quarterback in former Green Bay head coach (and current Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator) Mike Sherman's version of the West Coast Offense, Tannehill has been trained in a pro-style attack.

And yet, because he has only started 19 games I have serious reservations about Tannehill's ability to come in andcontribute immediately. Much like how former Washington Husky quarterback Jake Locker didn't progress in his second season under highly regarded offensive guru Steve Sarkisian, Tannehill didn't take the next step in terms of anticipation in; Year Two under Sherman.

For as maddeningly inconsistent as Locker was at UW, I believe the Tennessee Titans drafted him No. 8 overall last year primarily due tothe improvementsin technique the former Husky made during the final months of the pre-draft process and the ability he showed to win some tight ball games over his career.

And, of course, Tannehill (due to the broken foot that has kept him sidelined since January) wasn't able to make the gradual steps of improvement that Locker did in competing at the Senior Bowl, 2011 Combine and his Pro Day.

Frankly, I saw Tannehill play with more poise late in games as a junior than I did during his senior season. Sure, Tannehill was plagued by drops and defensive collapses in the Aggies losing four games last year in which they led by at least a touchdown at halftime, but I never saw the command of the huddle and ability to stop the bleeding once it started that I believe is critical to be a successful field general in the NFL. This isn't to suggest that Tannehill won't develop better anticipation and poise as he gains more experience at the position, only that he did not prove the ability to do so in 2011.

And because of that simple fact, I cannot support the argument that Tannehill should be selected in thetop half of thefirst round of the 2012 draft -- though I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Cleveland Browns (No. 4), Miami Dolphins (No. 8) or Seattle Seahawks (No. 12) do precisely that.
 
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