Ryan Tannehill

Draft Grades: Miami Dolphins

When you draft a quarterback in the 1st round, you’re staking your entire reputation on that one player, which is exactly what Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland did with Ryan Tannehill. No matter what happens with the rest of this draft class, only Tannehill’s performance will be remembered.

I’ve been saying all year that Ryan Tannehill is not a 1st-round talent. I gave him a 3rd-round grade based on the fact that he has the raw skills to start in the NFL, but needs a considerable amount of development before he’s ready. And based on that assessment, I don’t like his chances to succeed in Miami. He’s the type of quarterback that needs to sit and learn, and he won’t have that luxury. The Dolphins are probably going to throw him into the fire, and that rarely works out well for developmental prospects.

Jonathan Martin was extremely overrated throughout the draft process, but he’s a solid 2nd-round pick for the Dolphins. He’ll be plugged in a right tackle where he should be an adequate starter.

Olivier Vernon is a run-stuffing lineman and I’m not sure how he fits in Miami’s 3-4 defense. He may be too small to play end but isn’t athletic enough to play linebacker.

Michael Egnew was a nice pickup in the 3rd round. He’s essentially an oversized receiver, and won’t be a three-down tight end. But they needed to add a pass-catching tight end, and he’ll be a nice compliment to Anthony Fasano, who’s more of a traditional tight end.

Lamar Miller could prove to be a steal in the 4th round, but the running back depth chart in Miami is crowded. He’ll have to fight for playing time behind Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.

Josh Kaddu adds depth at linebacker and should contribute on special teams. He’ll likely play inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense.

B.J. Cunningham is a solid possession receiver who could be a late-round steal. He’s a strong route runner with good hands and has the skills to play immediately. However, he’s similar to some other receivers on the Dolphins roster, such as Davone Bess, which may hurt his chances of seeing any significant playing time as a rookie.

Kheeston Randall is a steal in the 7th round. He’s a tough, hard-working player who fits perfectly at end in the Dolphins 3-4 defense. He may only be a career backup, but in the 7th round he’s well worth the selection.

Richard Matthews will have a tough time making the Dolphins final roster cuts. He’ll find a job somewhere, but the depth chart is crowded at receiver in Miami.

The Dolphins made some nice picks in this draft, but it’s impossible to overlook the gamble on Tannehill. This franchise is headed in the wrong direction, and they don’t appear to have the decision makers in place to turn things around.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Draft Grades - 2012 Comments Off

Miami Dolphins select Ryan Tannehill, Grade F

Well, after handing out seven A’s I can finally rip on a team.

The Miami Dolphins are simply headed in the wrong direction and this is a desperation move. Ryan Tannehill is a nice developmental prospect, and there’s a lot to like about his potential. But he has significant flaws (albeit, fixable ones) in his game than need work before he’s ready to play in the NFL. In Miami, he’ll probably be thrust into a starting role too early which could be detrimental to his development.

I certainly won’t guarantee Tannehill turning into a bust, because I do like aspects of his game. But if I’m drafting a quarterback in the top 10, I want to be extremely confident in his ability to lead my franchise for the next decade, and I simply don’t feel that way about Tannehill.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Dolphins Comments Off

5 teams that will draft a quarterback

1. Indianapolis Colts/Washington Redskins
This is a done deal, so I’ll group these teams together.  We know that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are headed to Indy and Washington, respectively. But I will add this, don’t be surprised if Colts draft another quarterback to compete for the backup job with Drew Stanton. They own six picks in the final three rounds of the draft, and could add a guy like Russell Wilson or B.J. Coleman late in the draft.

2. Miami Dolphins
I’m not convinced the Dolphins will take Ryan Tannehill, but they will draft someone to compete with Matt Moore for the starting job. If they pass on Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or Kirk Cousins could be options on Day Two.

3. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are another candidate to land Tannehill. But even if they miss out on the Texas A&M signal caller, they’re likely to bring in someone to groom as Matt Cassel’s replacement in the 2nd or 3rd round.

4. Cleveland Browns
The Browns will have the first crack at Tannehill, but they’re unlikely to pull the trigger at No. 4. In fact, the Browns may simply chose to stick with McCoy and pass on most of the top signal callers in this draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t find someone. Mike Holmgren is a quarterback guru, and is likely to pick out someone in the 3rd round or later that he would like to develop.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Obviously the Steelers aren’t in the Tannehill sweepstakes, but they’re also unlikely to enter the 2012 season with Jerrod Johnson and Troy Smith as Roethlisberger’s backups. Look for them to add a quarterback at some point, potentially as a early as the 3rd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Browns, Chiefs, Colts, Dolphins, Redskins, Steelers Comments Off

Eagles reportedly interested in trading up to No. 4

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams are interested in trading up for the 4th pick in the draft.

Ryan Tannehill #17 - 255

Could the Eagles target Tannehill?

It’s fairly safe to assume that the Rams would be targeting Justin Blackmon, but the Eagles interest is not as clear.

Blackmon would certainly add another dimension to their offense, and Morris Claiborne would shore up a shaky secondary.

But the biggest name on the board would be Ryan Tannehill, who the Eagles have met with this offseason and reportedly are very high on. It would be tough to justify spending a high pick on a quarterback so soon after locking up Michael Vick, but Eagles are one franchise definitely not concerned with conforming to what the general public believes is right.

Regardless of who the target may be, it’s difficult to see how any player on the board at No. 4 would be worth what it would cost for the Eagles to move up from No. 15.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Eagles Comments Off

Chiefs likely to draft QB early

The Kansas City Chiefs paid good money to bring Matt Cassel into the fold in 2009, but three years into his tenure he’s shown limited improvement. Now, with three years and just over $21M remaining on his contract, the Chiefs are starting to look for his eventual replacement.

The Chiefs have already arranged visits with Ryan Tannehill, Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler, each of whom should come off the board no later than the 3rd round.

While I am generally against Ryan Tannehill going in the 1st round, the Chiefs would be a good fit. Tannehill is still learning the position and getting thrust into a starting role could be detrimental to his long-term development. In Kansas City, however, there will be no pressure to play right away. The Chiefs could stick with Cassel for at least one more year, if not longer.

Cousins and Osweiler are Day 2 prospects, who the Chiefs may consider in the early 2nd round. Cousins is more ready to play immediately, but Osweiler has the higher ceiling.

For more info, follow our Draft Visit Tracker, updated daily. 

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off

Is Ryan Tannehill a good fit for Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins are a longshot in the RGIII sweepstakes, which has led to speculation that they could reach for Ryan Tannehill with the 8th overall pick. Adding further fuel to the fire is the fact that Tannehill was coached by current Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman at Texas A&M.

But is Tannehill really a good fit for the Dolphins?

Obviously Tannehill will be familiar with parts of Sherman’s offense, but coach runs the exact same system in college and in the pros. While parts of the playbook will certainly be similar, Tannehill will be asked to do far more at the next level.

Much of Sherman’s offense at Texas A&M, at least during Tannehill’s one-and-a-half years as the starter, focused on taking advantage of Jeff Fuller’s ability as a possession receiver. Tannehill primarily threw a variety of outs and comeback routes to Fuller and Ryan Swopes, which are more difficult at the next level due to the smaller hash marks which essentially widen the field.

While these routes will be a part of the Dolphins offense in 2012, Sherman will need to expand the playbook, and Tannehill has yet to demonstrate the ability to throw to a full complement of NFL routes.

Additionally, it should be noted that Tannehill wasn’t exactly Mike Sherman’s hand-picked protégé. It was Sherman who initially moved Tannehill from quarterback to receiver, and then only turned to him as his starting quarterback once Jerrod Johnson began to struggle during his senior year. Obviously Sherman saw some flaws, and it’s entirely possible that his familiarity with Tannehill will actually make him less likely to want him as his quarterback at the next level.

Sherman has praised Tannehill publicly, but those comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Very few coaches (especially ones who may be interested in returning to the college ranks at some point) would ever speak ill of their former players for fear of the impact it could have on recruiting.

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Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Dolphins Comments Off

Breaking down Tannehill vs Arkansas

Last night I broke down Tannehill vs LSU in the 2011 Sugar Bowl – easily the best defense he faced as a starting quarterback. Tonight I’ll break down his performance against Arkansas. While the Razorbacks don’t compare to LSU, they were the top rated pass defense Tannehill faced in 2011.

Below are my notes on the game, and here is an excel sheet charting each of his dropbacks (excluding designed runs) from the game…

Tannehill picked apart the Razorbacks, but still raised questions

Comeback Routes – Tannehill and Jeff Fuller picked apart the Razorbacks secondary, connecting nine times for 82 yards. However, Tannehill was not pressured consistently (just six times) and each of Fuller’s receptions came on comeback or curl routes (and one drag), which presented Tannehill with a large target and plenty of time to get the ball to his top receiver. There’s no reason to criticize Tannehill for this – he took what the defense gave him – but it also don’t allow us to say anything positive in terms of his NFL potential. His favorite route to throw to was Fuller’s comeback routes, which are relatively rare and far more difficult to complete at the next level. Due to the small hashmarks in the NFL, this is a longer throw and NFL cornerbacks are often playing tighter coverage against such routes – especially when a team continues to go back to the well as A&M did in this game.

Deeper Routes – On a positive note, Tannehill twice connected with Ryan Swope on a hitch-and-go down the sideline and both were beautiful touch passes. On both throws Tannehill dropped the ball into a relatively tight space between defensive backs in zone coverage.  These were easily the two most impressive throws I’ve seen from Tannehill, and throws which were not made against LSU.

Hitting WRs in stride – However, when Tannehill attempted to hit a receiver in stride moving across the field, he showed the same inaccuracy as he did against LSU the previous season. At one point in the red zone in the 1st half, Tannehill throws behind a wide open Swope who was running a drag route toward the sideline. Let’s break down this particular play…

Swope (#25) immediately recognizes that he’s unaccounted for and signals to Tannehill, but as you can see in this frame Tannehill is still focused on Uzoma Nwachukwu who ran a comeback route down to the five yard line.

A few steps later, Tannehill sees Swope and rifles a pass which ultimately ends up sailing behind him. But take a look at the field. You can’t see it from this angle, but there is no one over the top of Swope except the two defensive backs in the opposite corners of the screen. Tannehill has no reason to fire a bullet at Swope, he has a clear path in every direction. No. 8 (in front of Swope) is focused on No. 19 and doesn’t appear to be aware of Swope. No. 9 (bottom left corner) is focused on Nwachukwu, who is standing on the five yard line. Tannehill can lead Swope to the sideline for an easy first down, or attempt to lead Swope toward the end zone with a slightly deeper throw.

Later in the game the same issues arise on similar routes; Tannehill throws wide to a diving Fuller who tips the ball, which is nearly intercepted. And on the final drive of the game, he again throws behind Swope on another drag route. By my count, Tannehill completed just two of five passes to receivers cutting across the middle of the field, or toward the sideline. If he cannot make these throws, that all but eliminates him from playing in a West Coast offense.

Confidence? – Another potential issue this raises – and this is strictly reading between the lines – is that Tannehill may simply lacks the confidence (or his coaching staff lacks confidence in him) to throw to these types of routes. Of his 27 aimed passes (not thrown away, spiked, etc), 22 were targeted at receivers who were essentially standing still (curls, comebacks, screens, etc). These types of passes aren’t always easy, but they’re more about timing than anything else. To Tannehill’s credit, he does have the timing down. However, it appears that Texas A&M’s offensive coaching staff carefully designed a game plan to highlight Tannehill’s strengths and mask his issues with leading receivers across the field.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off

Former NFL QB Tony Banks shares thoughts on Tannehill

I spent a good deal of time last night evaluating Ryan Tannehill and debating his potential on twitter. Shortly after posting a detailed break down of Tannehill’s performance against LSU in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, former quarterback and current Big Ten Network analyst Tony Banks chimed in.

I had stated that Tannehill’s accuracy was fine on simple routes, when his receivers aren’t on the move, but struggles hitting receivers in stride on slants and other crossing patters. That’s when Banks chimed in…

Clearly Banks was joking (sort of) which he explained later, but first went on to dismiss the notion of Tannehill as a 1st round prospect.

The conversation continued, but you get the jist of it from these tweets.

I completely agree with Banks’ blunt assessment that Tannehill “plays catch well” but struggles with the types of throws you need to make in the NFL. Saying he’s never made a 1st-round throw may be a slight exaggeration, but Banks was simply making his point clear – Tannehill was not forced to make the types of throws or decisions at Texas A&M that he will be faced with at the next level.

As the conversation turned from Tannehill, Banks also shared thoughts on Brock Osweiler (likes his potential but concerned with delivery) and his alma maters’ quarterback Kirk Cousins (likes his measurables but says he’s “skiddish” in the pocket”).

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft 1 Comment

In depth look at Tannehill vs LSU

As we inch closer to the draft it’s becoming increasingly clear that Ryan Tannehill is going to be a 1st-round pick.

In January, when I finalized my report on Tannehill, I initially gave him a 3rd round grade and expected, due to the premium put on the position, that he would probably come off the board in the 2nd round. But since his consensus grade seems to be much higher, I wanted to go back and take a closer look.

More specifically, I wanted to see Tannehill in situations most comparable to what he’ll face in the NFL. Unfortunately, due to Texas A&M’s schedule I had to go back to the 2011 Sugar Bowl vs LSU to find a defense worthy to truly testing Tannehill, both in terms of coverage in the secondary and pressure with the front seven.

Here are my notes on what stood out [here is the excel sheet with detailed stats on each time he dropped back to throw]

A close look at the 2011 Sugar Bowl gives up some insight into Tannehill's game

Pocket Presence - The first thing that stands out is Tannehill’s willingness to stand in the pocket. Considering his athleticism and the fact that he was a relatively new starter at this stage in his carer, this is impressive. He isn’t afraid to take a hit, and only runs as a last resort. Tannehill was pressured fairly consistently in this game, and while the pressure did force some bad throws, only once did it force him to take off running.

Issues with certain routes - One concern that is raised by his performance in this game is the type of throws on which he struggles. Texas A&M’s offense is fairly conservative by Big 12 standards and is a close match for what he’ll see in the the NFL. As a result, he’s familiar with the type of reads he’ll need to make at the next level. However, he has a tendency - be it by design or choice, only his coaches could tell us that – to shy away from throwing to a moving target. In this game Tannehill rarely threw across the  middle of the field, favoring hitches and hooks and an occasional quick out. When throwing to a moving target, his accuracy is noticeable shaky and it’s possible he consciously avoids these routes. This is of particular concern to teams running the West Coast offense. If he isn’t capable of hitting receivers in stride on quick slants, then he isn’t going to be able to handle that type of scheme.

Handling Pressure – Perhaps the most serious concern that arises from his performance against LSU is his inability to handle pressure. By my count, Tannehill was pressured 10 times. Two resulted in a sack (one was also a fumble), one pass was batted down and on another he was forced to run. That left six aimed passes, two of which he completed. However, the two completed passes were both dump-offs to the running back either at or behind the line of scrimmage. Of the other four passes, all of which were incomplete, only one was accurate (a nice low throw on the run into tight coverage where only his man could reach it).

Accuracy in pocket – When not pressured, Tannehill looked comfortable in the pocket. However, his accuracy was only marginally better. 19 of his 28 passes were on target – a very average number for a guy considered a potential top pick. He has a tendency, even without any pressure, to throw off his back foot which results in high throws. This is fixable, but it also shows up in his 2011 film, so there is still work to be done.

Deep Accuracy – One final concern that presents itself in this game is his inability to find receivers down field. As I already mentioned has favors short routes, and likes to check down when he doesn’t immediately see something open down the field. When he does take a shot deep (15 yards or beyond) he’s erratic. In this game he completed just 3 of 9 passes deep passes, and only four were on target. Two of his throws sailed out of bounds, another was a good three feet over his receivers head and nearly intercepted, and another bounced a good three yards in front of his receiver.

Final Thoughts – After putting this game under the microscope, I have to stick with my initial evaluation of Tannehill. He clearly looks the part, and has the athleticism and pocket presence to play at the next level. However, he is still developing and has too many holes in his game to warrant a 1st-round pick. I will not be surprised if he does develop into a quality starter, but if I’m taking a quarterback in the 1st round I want to be more confident in his ability to lead my franchise for the next decade than I am with Tannehill.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft Comments Off

Quarterback Search: Washington Redskins

Few teams have a more crucial and glaring hole to fill than the Washington Redskins need for a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately for the ‘Skins, their surprising early-season success left them with the 6th-overall selection, and potentially without any viable quarterback options in the 1st round.

However, owner Dan Snyder has never been shy about parting with draft picks, making them a legitimate candidate to trade up for Robert Griffin III. But before we assume the Redskins will attempt to move up (possibly to No. 2) to acquire Griffin, they first need to be sure he fits into Mike Shanahan’s offensive scheme.

As a former offensive coordinator, Shanahan likes to hand pick his quarterbacks, and has been reasonably successful in his efforts (at least prior to joining the Redskins).

While it’s tough to sum up all the quarterbacks Shanahan has used in 20+ years as a head coach/offensive coordinator, the one commonality between his primary signal callers has been their mobility. John Elway and Steve Young obviously stand out but Jake Plummer and, to a lesser extent, Steve Beuerlein, Jay Cutler and Brian Griese fit the mold as well.

Based solely on this trait, Griffin clearly fits the Shanahan profile. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Redskins will jump at the chance to move up.

Shanahan has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and isn’t shy about waiting until the later rounds to fill crucial needs. Other prospects such as Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles and Brock Osweiler also possess many of the same traits as Griffin, and could interest Shanahan in the late 1st (should the Redskins chose to trade down) or in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2012 NFL Draft, Redskins Comments Off