What is it about Ryan Tannehill that has a couple of draft gurus practically peeing in their trousers?
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network and ESPN’s Todd McShay have wet themselves recently in overt praise of the Texas A&M quarterback. One would think, based on their comments, Tannehill is the next John Elway.
Both men are on record as saying the Browns would be insane to pass on the young man with their first pick in the opening round of next month’s college football draft. Well maybe not exactly those words, but they have strongly suggested Tannehill is good enough to become the Browns’ future franchise quarterback.
If the Browns draft Tannehill with their first pick at No. 4 and groom him his first season, “I do think that now, you’re looking at an organization that has its future franchise quarterback,” said McShay after watching Tannehill’s pro day workout recently.
This from a guy who showered similar platitudes on JaMarcus Russell a few years ago, and we all know how that one turned out.
Fact is Tannehill is not the best quarterback in this draft. He’s not even the second-best quarterback in this draft. And there are those who will argue that Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden in the third-best.
Andrew Luck is clearly the best quarterback with Robert Griffin The Third close behind. Both are head and shoulders above Tannehill.
Hopefully, Browns President Mike Holmgren, General Manager Tom Heckert Jr. and coach Pat Shurmur turn deaf ears on the bleatings of Mayock and McShay, a couple of guys who more often than not get it right.
What the draft gurus see in Tannehill is hard to figure out. Yes, he’s got the size at 6-4 and 220 pounds. And he’s got a decent arm. And yes, he ran a pro-style offense under coach Mike Sherman at A&M.
But he’s still a baby when it comes quarterbacking a team. He arrived at A&M as a high school quarterback and was immediately converted to wide receiver. He returned under center in his junior season and produced two nice seasons.
He threw 29 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions for the Aggies as a senior, but a closer look at his stats shows he threw most of those TD passes (20) against lesser opponents. When facing the likes of Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Arkansas and Texas, he had just nine scoring passes and 11 picks.
In other words, he feasted on the patsies of the schedule, but didn’t come close to flourishing against the tough teams.
McShay and Mayock watched Tannehill throw at his pro day and, of course, he looked good. Very good. But pro days are structured and orchestrated in an effort to make players look good.
Watch him on film against a pass rush and some decent coverage in the secondary and you’ll see a different Tannehill.
He’s not worth the No. 4 pick. Not even close. At best, he’s a project.
Maybe the Browns have a shot at him if he slides down to No. 22, where they own Atlanta’s pick. But that probably won’t happen because Miami at No. 8 is expected to pounce on him.
What Holmgren and Heckert do is anyone’s guess at this juncture. But bear in mind that this is the Cleveland Browns we’re talking about, a team that has had a flirtatious relationship with Murphy’s Law down through the years. If that relationship continues, count on the Browns making a mistake and drafting Tannehill at No. 4.
Big mistake. Huge mistake.
The Browns need players who can help them NOW, not one of two years down the road. They need to get better NOW, not wait for someone to possibly be their future quarterback. There is absolutely no guarantee Tannehill is that guy.
Fortunately, the Browns are in a position to draft players who can step in immediately and become productive. Players like Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Mo Claiborne and Matt Kalil. If they stay put at No. 4, one of them will wear the Brown and Orange next season.
Heckert and Shurmur attended Richardson’s pro day recently and had to be impressed with what they saw. What they saw was maybe the best all-around running back to come along in the last 10 years. One can only imagine their thoughts when Richardson knocked Browns running backs coach Gary Brown head over keister in a blocking drill.
In the end, isn’t it better to draft the best player at a position rather than the third- or fourth-best? This draft is deep enough where the Browns can fill three weak areas with players who can become starters on day 1 of training camp.
For once, I’d like to see this team’s front office do the right thing in the draft. Forget the quarterback and focus on surrounding Colt McCoy with some decent weapons and give him a chance to become the quarterback they thought they drafted a few years ago.
Is that asking too much? For the last dozen or so years, the answer, with few exceptions, has been the same.