Dear Mr. Texas A&M quarterback,
I told myself I wasn't going to do this anymore ... that I couldn't do this anymore. I made a promise to myself last fall that I'd stop overvaluing "second-tier" quarterback talent available in the NFL draft. I swore to cease the QB baby-crazy behavior that typically consumes Dolphins fans once they realize their team has no shot to acquire the draft's No.1 or No.2 signal-calling prospect (this behavior is the only rational explanation for Dolphins fans actually wanting Alex Smith in Miami).
I essentially did everything in my power to stay from the likes of you, Mr. Tannehill, and I failed ... miserably.Here you are, scaling up draft boards like Peter Parker in his prime. Not even a broken foot (suffered last January), inconsistent tape or the stink of College Station could keep you from joining the first-round dance this April. You're now the No. 3 quarterback prospect behind Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III, and people are saying you actually do some things better than those two players.
Oddly enough, you were basically a nobody last summer--the quarterback "who used to be a receiver"; with a little luck, you'd be selected late on day two of the draft. You were referred to countless times as an "intriguing prospect with excellent upside" by draft analysts and wannabe goons alike, but that compliment was usually followed up with that filthy r-word used to describe quarterbacks in need of development at the NFL level. You've had the word "raw" attached to your name more than Eddie Murphy, but a close glimpse of your tape reveals a skilled passer with the mind, arm strength and athleticism to blow holes in NFL defenses.
Turns out, you're almost certainly more than just a second-tier quarterback prospect, Mr. Tannehill. You're a passer to be reckoned with--a player who is a completely different animal from the two prospects ahead of him on every draft board in existence.
The question now is whether or not you're worth the eighth overall pick in this year's draft. Some say yes; some say no way. I think I am somewhere in between those two factions. Remember, I come from "Overvaluing Quarterbacks Anonymous." I get baby crazy with quarterbacks who would look super in a Dolphins uniform. I was crushed when Miami passed on Brady Quinn five years ago. I was bummed when Joe Flacco didn't fall to us at No. 32 overall the next year. I would've taken just about any quarterback with a pulse last spring. Christian Ponder? He couldn't stay healthy in college ... but sure, bring him in. Jake Locker? I don't mind his godawful accuracy in the pocket. Go get him. Blaine Gabbert? I believe my desperation has blinded me. I would gladly welcome this young man who looks just like Randal from Clerks.
Again, baby crazy for quarterbacks. It's a bad way to be, and it leads to mistakes and glaring oversights (like, for instance, my inability to note that Blaine Gabbert was worthless for 99.6 percent of the time he played at Missouri). I was supposed to axe this behavior in 2012, but Tannehill, who has been on my radar since last summer, and was featured in one of my draft columns in early December, has dragged me right back into the fold. I've fallen flat off of the wagon.
Thing is, it might be different this time. Tannehill does a lot of things that the above mentioned prospects can't. His arm is a compact-y bullwhip capable of fitting the ball in vapor-lock-tight windows. His footwork in the pocket is James Brown worthy. He consistently demonstrates the ability to dial through his progressions. He's also an absolute nuisance for defenses when he leaves the pocket. All he needs is the right environment and coaching ... and his former college coach, Mike Sherman, just happens to be the Dolphins' current offensive coordinator. Add in the fact that Tannehill gained experience in the West Coast offense (the offense that will be installed in Miami this offseason) while at Texas A&M, and you're talking about a situation where you could take a "developmental project" quarterback and shorten his learning curve considerably by placing him in an offense he knows, masterminded by a guy Tannehill has already played for.
Consider me still in the middle of this whole Ryan Tannehill-at-No. 8 thing. The quarterback famine in Miami has been unbearable to the point where fans are ready and willing to jump at almost any prospect who closely resembles a promising signal caller. That said, this team just cannot afford to play games and mess around with the quarterbacks in front of them. If Tannehill is still on the board when the eight selection rolls around, the Dolphins might be wise to eschew the roundabout tactics and just draft the guy at that spot. No trading down, no pulling a Cameron/Mueller and waiting for the second round to find your guy, etc. The stopgaps (Matt Moore and David Garrard) are in place, and Philbin and Sherman will be able to slowly bring Tannehill along and mold him into the starter they're craving right now.
I told myself I wasn't going to stick around for the second-tier quarterbacks, but the likelihood of Luck and Griffin going No.1 and No. 2, respectively, in this draft convinced me to rethink that promise. Luckily for me, Ryan Tannehill might not be a "second-tier" passer after all. We'll get an idea of what Tannehill's all about at his pro day later today. After that, it's up to the Dolphins to decide whether or not a quarterback will come off the board at the No. 8 spot.