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Brian Billick: Ryan Tannehill reminds of highly rated QB JaMarcus Russell

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Brian Billick thinks Tannehill reminds of Jam-Jam. Ouch. (Getty Images)
In my most recent mock draft, I had the Chiefs trading up to grab Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. And I'm not alone in the belief that Tannehill will be a top-10 pick; it's not easy to find a mock that has Tannehill slipping past the Dolphins at eighth overall.

But one NFL analyst, former Ravens coach Brian Billick, thinks that Tannehill's getting seriously overvalued because of the need at quarterback, and offered a pause-worthy comparison on Thursday morning when discussing Tannehill's pro potential.

"This has a classic miss on it," Billick said on "Mike & Mike" this morning. "And it has nothing to do with Ryan Tannehill. He is an intriguing prospect. He has great potential. He reminds me -- and I don't mean to put this in a negative connotation -- a little of JaMarcus Russell, in terms of obviously [he has] tremendous physical skills and could blossom into something. But in terms of the amount of time he's played and the numbers are very similar. The way he's rushed up the charts concerns me a great deal. Need is a terrible evaluator."

Golic and Greenberg (or whoever tweets for them) failed to mention Billick's disclaimer earlier, but that's fine. Billick invoked Jam-Jam's name in comparing him to another quarterback; what he did is the real-life equivalent of saying "no offense but" right before you inform your buddy that his wife looks like Roseanne Barr.

More interesting to me in this discussion is that Billick also said Russell was the highest-rated player he ever had while coaching in Baltimore.

"We did a pretty decent job, and obviously they continue to do a phenomenal job in Baltimore, with Ozzie Newsome and his group," Billick said, via Michael David Smith at Pro Football Talk. "JaMarcus Russell was the highest-rated player I've ever seen on any of our boards. So we all missed on JaMarcus Russell. Make no mistake."

OK, maybe "interesting" should be replaced with "terrifying." I mean, there were 12 Pro Bowlers in the first round and that doesn't include guys who are reasonably productive/coming around/poised for a breakout like LaRon Landry, Lawrence Timmons, Aaron Ross, Reggie Nelson, Greg Olsen, Anthony Spencer and Robert Meachem. Russell is an unholy bust, and it's only magnified by the fact that Calvin Johnson went second overall that year.

Of course, the biggest difference between Tannehill and Russell is that everyone's questioning Tannehill's pedigree, whereas Russell was considered by a lot of people to be a sure thing. Billick included, obviously.

But maybe Billick's evaluation of quarterbacks is just, um, off. NFL.com's Marc Sessler makes a good point when he lists the quarterbacks that Billick's drafted, a list which includes Chris Redman, Wes Pate, Kyle Boller, Josh Harris, Derek Anderson and Troy Smith and calls the group "not exactly a carnival of celebrated arms."

No, no it's not. That being said, Tannehill's value is being pumped up some by need. But that's not something that relates to Tannehill's skillset. That's just basic economics -- and it's precisely why I think someone will make a move to get Tannehill. Whether or not he succeeds in the NFL remains to be seen, but simply based on the fact that he won't get a contract with more than $30 million in guaranteed money automatically makes him nowhere near what Russell was for the Raiders.

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