Posted: 9:20 am Friday, April 27th, 2012
Jeff Ireland says Ryan Tannehill could be talked about ‘in the same breath’ as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III
By Post Staff
Andrew Luck, taken No. 1 overall by Indianapolis in last night’s NFL Draft, is considered by many as the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning entered the league in 1998. Some experts think Robert Griffin III, a freakish athlete who won the Heisman Trophy and went No. 2 to Washington, actually has a higher ceiling than Luck.
Ryan Tannehill has a lot less experience than Luck and RG3, starting just 20 games at quarterback in college. But Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland said Friday morning on The Joe Rose Show on 560-AM that the Dolphins drafted a quarterback every bit as good as the other two.
“If had we eight to 10 more games of film to watch Ryan Tannehill play that position, I think we’re looking at him in the same breath as Griffin and maybe Luck,” Ireland said. “I think he’s got that kind of ability and arm talent.”
Tannehill’s numbers and college career don’t compare to those of the other two. Luck started 38 games, with 9,400 yards, 82 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Griffin started 41 games, with 10,071 yards, 77 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Tannehill had just 20 starts, with 5,450 yards, 42 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper called the selection of Tannehill “unprecedented” – never before had a quarterback, who actually started more games at receiver in his college career (30 starts), been drafted with a top-10 pick.
But Ireland turned Tannehill’s lack of experience from a negative to a positive.
“Experience is something that he doesn’t have a lot of. But the games that he played, that also impresses you, because he was also able to do something pretty damn good in a short period of time,” Ireland said. “If he had a few more games under his belt from an experience standpoint, you would’ve seen a progression of him getting better and better, and you did see that.”
Tannehill also doesn’t compare to Luck or RG3 in terms of overall team success. Luck compiled a 31-8 record as a starter with two BCS Bowl appearances. Griffin led Baylor to a 10-3 record last year while giving the Bears their first bowl win since 1992. Tannehill, meanwhile, went 7-6 in 2011, his only year as a starter, as the Aggies blew several second-half leads and went from a preseason No. 8 ranking to unranked by the end of the season.
“I don’t particularly think it was all Ryan’s fault,” Ireland said. “Sometimes maybe the defense didn’t come through. … He had something like 70 dropped balls. That’s a lot. I don’t think you should go into a season thinking you’re going to drop 70 balls.”
Ireland isn’t the only one who sees elements of Tannehill’s game that he does just as well as, if not better than, Luck and Griffin.
“I think he threw the ball on the run extremely well — in fact, he threw it on the run better than Griffin or Luck, and I believe that, which means you’ll see a lot of the playaction pass game with him,” said NFL Films executive producer Greg Cosell, who watches hours of film on hundreds of draft prospects.
Ultimately, Ireland said he saw enough in Tannehill’s limited body of work to conclude that Tannehill is an elite prospect – one possibly every bit as good as the two superstars taken at the top of the draft.
“He’s a guy that I’ve liked for a long time. I’ve studied him intently,” Ireland said. “Ryan certainly has a lot the tangible and intangible ingredients to be successful player in this league at that position.”