The 2015 NFL regular season is just over a week away, and teams are in the process of cutting their rosters down to the 53-man regular season roster limit. The Miami Dolphins' roster is, of course, led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a player who in 2012 was the team's first-round draft pick, the first time they had used a first-round selection on a quarterback since the 1983 selection of Dan Marino, and a player who last year became the only Dolphins quarterback not named Marino to throw for 4,000 yards.
Let us now take a journey back to April 2012, when the Dolphins had just used the eighth overall pick to select Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. There was so much talk about Tannehill having been a "wide receiver" in college with "just" 19 starts at quarterback. Reports were not using the R word though were they:
NFL Network's Mike Mayock on Ryan Tannehill after the QB's Pro Day: Cleveland has to take him at No. 4 | cleveland.com
"He's very raw," said Mayock. "He had only 19 starts in college. However, because the NFL is so overheated right now when it comes to finding franchise quarterbacks, I think the kid is probably going to go higher than he should."
Other than that reach for Ryan Tannehill in Round 1, Miami did a really good job of managing this draft.
Questionable pick: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M (Round 1, 8). How long will it take Tannehill to develop into a productive NFL starter? That answer could determine the fate of Ireland and others in Miami.
All this for a quarterback whose 13-7 career record and 42-21 TD/INT ratio pale in comparison to the exploits of the pro-ready Luck and Heisman winner RGIII. But with many teams still searching for franchise QBs, teams are prone to reach for signal-callers, as the Raiders did when they drafted Jamarcus Russell first overall in 2007.
Needless to say, with only 19 starts under his belt, a 12-7 record as a starter and 21 career interceptions, Tannehill is a total project. Luck and Griffin III are as sure-fire as quarterback prospects get and the drop-off to the converted wide receiver is severe.
There are many analysts who consider the Dolphins' selection of the QB at No. 8 as a huge reach.
There is no questioning that Tannehill is a reach, but he's an extremely talented reach. If you're going to take that risk, you do it with a quarterback. General manager Jeff Ireland had to get a strong candidate for the position. Tannehill may have to sit for half a season or so, but that's fine if he ends up being good.
This all depends on how much you believe in Ryan Tannehill. I'm on the fence, and especially suspect of his value at No. 8.
They also went for the extreme makeover, offensive edition. It's just Tannehill is a big wild card.
Taking Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick is a risk. He has tools, but limited starts. Did they overdraft because of the need at the position?
Every draft is its own special animal, which explains why Dan Marino could be the 27th player selected in 1983 and Ryan Tannehill, who had trouble convincing his college coach that quarterback was his calling, could go at No. 8 on Thursday night. In my view, however, this would have been a reach in any draft year.
Tannehill might have been a reach at No. 8. He started just 19 games in college after switching from receiver to quarterback, and last year he threw 15 interceptions while going only 1-4 against Top 25 teams.
Ouch. Maybe they were. Tannehill has been better than these post-draft grades and articles, right? But, maybe he just does not stand up to all those sure-fire picks made in front of him. A reach would, surely, not have anywhere near the career that those value picks made earlier in the selection process have had. Why don't we take a quick look back at the 2012 NFL Draft.
1. Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts - Luck was considered a "once-in-a-generation" prospect as he came out of Stanford (meaning the Colts drafted two once-in-a-generation quarterbacks in a row - Peyton Manning and Luck). Since joining Indianapolis, Luck has thrown for 12,957 yards, 86 touchdowns, including a league leading 40 last year, with 43 interceptions, and a career passer rating of 86.6. He has started all 48 games since his selection, and he has directed the Colts to an 11-5 record every year. He has also been selected to the Pro Bowl every year. Luck was the clearly worthy of the number one overall pick.
2. Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Washington Redskins - Let us just say the drama surrounding the Redskins and the quarterback for whom they traded away three first round picks and a second round choice was the genesis of this idea. Things have gone from bad to worse to rock-bottom to the sludge you find under the rocks at the bottom. In his rookie year, RG3 appeared to be exactly what the Redskins wanted in their quarterback. He finished that initial season with 3,200 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, giving him a 102.4 passer rating, which, along with 815 rushing yards and 7 touchdown carries, earned the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner a Pro Bowl berth. The wheels fell of the next season, with Griffin rushing back from injuries to his ACL and LCL in his right knee, an injury he suffered at the end of the 2012 season. In the next two seasons, Griffin was repeatedly injured, playing in 21 of 32 possible games, winning just five games, and throwing for a combined 4,897 yards with 20 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. This year, Griffin has already sustained a concussion and is now, at best, the backup quarterback for Washington. Speculation abounds that, as soon as Griffin is medically cleared from his concussion symptoms, the Redskins will release him.
3. Trent Richardson, running back, Cleveland Browns - The Browns grabbed the highly touted Richardson with the third pick, only to see him last just 18 games with the club, one of which he did not play. In that first year, Richardson ran for 950 yards on 267 carries, scoring 11 touchdowns in 15 games, missing the Week 17 season finale. The NFL Players voted Richardson the 71st ranked player in the 2012 NFL Top 100 Players list. He started the first two games of the 2013 season for Cleveland, picking up 105 yards on 31 carries, before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first round draft pick in 2014. The Browns clearly got the better end of the deal. Richardson appeared in all 14 remaining games for the Colts, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on 157 attempts (458 yards) with three touchdowns. His 2014 performance was not much better, playing in 15 games, with 159 carries for 519 yards (3.3 yards per carry) with three touchdowns. He signed this year with the Oakland Raiders, but was released in the first round of roster cuts on Monday.
4. Matt Kalil, offensive tackle, Minnesota Vikings - The safest pick in the 2012 Draft, outside maybe Luck, Kalil was a surefire dominant offensive tackle who would set the tone for the Vikings' offense for a decade. Except, someone forgot to tell Kalil that. He was impressive as a rookie, earning a Pro Bowl berth. Then his play level suddenly dropped. He has not missed a start since the Vikings selected him, playing left tackle for the NFC North franchise, but he has just not been the same player. Kalil's rookie season was graded as a +14.3 by Pro Football Focus, then he tallied a -6.0 rating in 2013 followed by a -21.1 rating in 2014. Somehow, the Vikings missed on a cannot miss prospect.
5. Justin Blackmon, wide receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars - Maybe the only player whose mess is even worse than RG3's, Blackmon has been nothing short of a disaster for the Jaguars. As a rookie, Blackmon played in all 16 gamesm catching 64 passes for 865 yards with five touchdowns. Since then, he has played just four games, repeatedly being sidelined by alcohol and drug related offenses. He is currently on an indefinite suspension from the league, a suspension that requires Blackmon to request reinstatement, a process that was already completed once and the league actually denied the request.
6. Morris Claiborne, cornerback, Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys traded up in the draft to grab Claiborne, who had actually been projected to go earlier than the sixth spot. When he was still on the board, Dallas immediately jumped up to the St. Louis Rams' position, sending St. Louis their first and second round picks. Claiborne was immediately installed as the team's starting cornerback, starting 15 games as a rookie. The 2013 season did not go as well, however, with Claiborne falling behind Orlando Scandrick on the depth chart as well as multiple injuries, including a dislocated shoulder and a hamstring problem, limited Claiborne to just 10 games played. In 2014, Claiborne was still behind Scandrick on the depth chart, appearing in the first four games before a knee injury ended his season. So far in 2015, Claiborne has not demonstrated anything to prove he is ready to expand his role with the team this year.
7. Mark Barron, safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Barron was expected to burst onto the scene as a can't-miss safety, yet it appears he is another early pick miss in the 2012 Draft. Barron started all 16 games for the Buccaneers as a rookie, recording 89 tackles with one interception and one forced fumble. In his second season, Barron started 14 games, recording 88 tackles with two interceptions. He started the first seven games of the 2014 season for the Buccaneers, before being traded to the St. Louis Rams for a fourth- and a sixth-round draft pick. With the Rams, Barron moved from safety to a nickel linebacker, recording 23 tackles and three sacks in nine games played, with two starts. In 2015, he appears to have moved back to safety, but does not appear to be lined up as the starting safety for the Rams, who did not pick up the team-option on Barron's contract, meaning he will be a free agent after the season.
8. Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Miami Dolphins - Miami signed Tannehill to a contract extension this offseason, keeping him on the roster through the 2020 season and paying him $96 million. He became the first Dolphins rookie quarterback to start all 16 games in his first year back in 2012, and he has started all 48 so far in his career. Last year, he threw for 4,045 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Tannehill has been incredible so far this Preseason, and appears ready to continue to improve on his previous year's stats, a trend he has had every year in the league thus far.
Tannehill is joined by Luck as the only two players in the first eight picks to be with his original team, to not have been benched, or to not be playing so poorly, he should be benched. Tannehill's career started with him being widely panned as a reach. Now, entering the fourth season since the Draft, Tannehill appears to be a player ready to breakout and silence all his critics.