Evaluating Ryan Tannehill


I am just so upset I didn’t get to see Ryan Tannehill perform in the Underwear Olympics. How do you project a college quarterback’s performance in the NFL without first seeing how he would look in spandex? Isn’t it a league requirement that all rookie quarterbacks spend a year somewhere in the cheerleading depth chart? Maybe I’m wrong, but what about knowing how high he can jump? I don’t know how to feel about a quarterback unless he can LeGarrette Blount hurdle his offensive line and run 34 yards for a touchdown. Kind of like Tim Tebow after drinking a Red Bull (only Tebow reference I promise).

NFL Combine B.S. aside the truth is Ryan Tannehill does have wings, but thankfully he is nothing like ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named.’ The former wide receiver turned quarterback can not only run… but run routes, run the offense, run after the catch, throw on the run, well you get the picture. What’s not to like?! Ryan Tannehill is another freakish college athlete trying to make it in the NFL. However, freaking athleticism does not always work for a quarterback at the pro level, unless Cam Newtons start to grow on trees, but I’ll put my money on Fig Newtons remaining the only Newton to come off of a tree (only Fig Newton reference ever I promise… well maybe not). Quarterbacks need a lot more in their repertoire to be successful at this level and honestly Ryan Tannehill looks like a bit of a project. Here’s what I saw in the three games he played this year.

The Positives

Ryan Tannehill has great mobility. Not only is he capable of making plays with his feet, but speed isn’t his only weapon. This guy was a former wide receiver and a good receiver at that. He can make people miss tackles all over the place. However, this type of running in the NFL can get you killed. Someone is going to need to teach Tannehill how to slide or else he is going to meet Patrick Willis on the wrong side of a scramble.

Furthermore, Tannehill’s mobility doesn’t come without the ability to throw on the run. He reminds me of Sam Bradford when he does this. The accuracy is just unbelievable. Tannehill can make throws accurately while moving to short, intermediate, and deeper intermediate ranges. To do this with his amount of precision is pretty incredible. Tannehill’s accurate throwing is so apparent because most of the plays he makes are roll out passes to the sidelines. This is something Tannehill is very talented at. He slides left and right with his receiver depending on the direction they are running and waits for the perfect moment to put the ball out of bounds where only they can catch it.

Despite Tannehill’s mobile play it is important to note that he really is a pocket passer. He can stand in the pocket and make throws under duress, even with a defender inches away from tackling him. Additionally, he has good footwork most of the time and with a little NFL coaching Tannehill should make the change to having good footwork all the time.  Furthermore, Tannehill gets the ball out quickly and with very good velocity. He can put a lot of zip on the ball when he needs to.

The Negatives

Tannehill can throw accurately from the pocket to almost all three ranges, however at the deep ranges his balls can be a little underthrown. In the games I watched he never really allowed his receivers to run under the ball and catch it in stride. This will get you picked off in the NFL, you can’t allow the defender the ability to adjust on the ball and box out your wide receiver. Also Tannehill threw a little behind his receivers at times as well. He has good accuracy, but it’s his sideline passes that make him look most accurate.

What disappointed me the most in Tannehill’s game was his decision making. There were a few plays that left me questioning his sanity. In one of them he literally threw the ball straight to the defender without one of his receivers within ten yards of the football. It was like he forgot what color his team was wearing. The defensive back was so surprised he didn’t even catch the ball! Tannehill forces throws and this will get him picked off every time in the NFL. You can’t throw the ball when your receiver has three guys covering him and this is something I saw Tannehill do.

Not only can Tannehill be far too aggressive at times, but he often doesn’t allow himself to make good decisions. He frequently rolls out of the pocket before going through all of his reads. It’s like he totally forgets about the other side of the football field. This was the one piece of his game that struck me as his worst quality. The first thing I look for when evaluating a quarterback’s skillset is his eyes. A quarterback needs to keep his head on a swivel. Wide receivers can be covered one moment and open the next. The NFL game moves fast.

Overall I think Ryan Tannehill is a great athlete with a good solid arm and above average accuracy for a college quarterback. It’s his instincts and decision making that scares me. If Tannehill forces passes in the NFL like he did in college he will get intercepted and get his wide receivers killed. However, Tannehill is a project. He has great upside if his forceful throws are only experience and not tendency.

Although when watching Tannehill there was nothing I saw that showed me he had a good ‘on the field football IQ.’ He may be an intelligent prospect, but I have not seen that intelligence translate into his play. Ryan Tannehill has trouble reading defenses and I foresee the NFL game moving very fast for him. I honestly don’t know how I would feel if the Seahawks draft Tannehill. He really isn’t the sexy pick and I definitely don’t think he deserves to be picked in the first round. If we don’t sign Mario Williams I would rather see us go after Melvin Ingram or another DE/OLB. Furthermore, if we do sign Mario Williams I still don’t think we should draft him at 12. It’s just too high for a quarterback of his stature. I would like the Seahawks to forget about Tannehill unless he falls to us in the second round and only if defensive end has been taken care of. Honestly I kind of like Russel Wilson (at first glance mind you), I know about his height but he looked phenomenal at the Combine.

What do you guys think?