I am not sure if this was posted today, but this is on ESPN.com regarding Tannehill and his potential. Well written article with many good points. Here is the article:
Tim Heitman/US PresswireRyan Tannehill's ability to handle pressure has helped him get off to a fast start.
The 2010 season was really the pivotal season for the 2012 draft and the quarterback class that will define it. Future No. 1 pick Andrew Luck became an All-American for the first time at Stanford. He threw 32 touchdown passes in typically mistake-free fashion and moved to the top of draft boards to stay. Future No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III came back from an ACL tear that erased his 2009 season, completed 67 percent of his throws and made a case for scouts to ditch the "athlete" label and focus on his promise as a quarterback.
Ryan Tannehill, on the other hand, started slowly. Through six games, his numbers were light, and it was clear he wouldn't repeat his Big 12 all-conference honorable mention performance of 2009.
After all, through those first six games, Tannehill caught only 11 passes.
"He was a good wide receiver," then-Texas A&M QB coach Tom Rossley told me, "but he never even went to the wide receiver meetings." That's because Tannehill was really a quarterback, even if the all-conference year at wide receiver said differently. He just had to wait his turn, just as he did on draft day. It's also why, after an initial NFL stretch in which he's thrown for the third-highest yardage total in NFL history for a rookie in his first five starts -- even if he'll again have to wait his turn for attention behind the guys taken before him -- Tannehill could have the ceiling of a star.
Let's start with his QB company and their NFL arrival.
Through the first five weeks of the 2012 season, the quarterbacks of the 2012 draft class haven't just looked good -- if you add Brandon Weeden to the mix, they're on pace to become the most prolific QB rookie class ever. Personnel strategy has played a huge role. Luck is off to a stellar start partly because the Colts kept Reggie Wayne, then built their entire draft strategy around adding pass-catching options. So is RG3; the Redskins have tailored their offense to his talents and raided the WR free-agency market before he arrived. Even Weeden is putting up solid totals amid the Cleveland misery, with more passing yards than Philip Rivers or Matthew Stafford. Again, the Browns also added offensive help with each of their early picks.
Then there's Tannehill. Like the case in 2010, with Tannehill, it's a little different.
Miami not only didn't add help in the passing game this offseason, but it shipped Brandon Marshall, its only significant receiver target, to the Bears. And the Dolphins didn't draft help, either -- waiting until the sixth round to add a wide receiver. How bad was their wide receiver situation entering the season? No Miami wideout ranked within the top 80 in 2011. Luck, RG3 and Weeden didn't walk into beautifully finished offensive homes, but comparatively, Tannehill was handed a plot of land and a stack of misshapen lumber. This for the guy who was busy catching passes for Texas A&M while the competition honed its NFL-caliber QB skills.
Through all this, Tannehill has put up not merely yardage but very good performances against pressure, and Miami could easily be 4-1 given its pair of overtime losses.
Why has it worked? There are a number of reasons.
"His time at wide receiver actually helps him," Rossley said. "He can understand the whole concept, from the depth or routes, to the little signals for when a route isn't there, and how the wideout might adjust on the fly."
[+] Enlarge Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PresswireTannehill is a former college WR with superior athleticism.
So although Tannehill's best targets are Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, guys who were previously a backup and a slot receiver, respectively, both are off to the best starts of their careers. Tannehill might be still working on his craft as a quarterback after just one full college season as a starter, but he supplements that with a personal understanding of where his receivers should be. His ability to anticipate is beyond where many thought it would be (author included).
It shows in his ability to handle pressure. While Tannehill was set up to be another Blaine Gabbert, a rookie overmatched against pressure given limited college reps -- and with a weak surrounding cast of receivers -- he's thrived against it. Thus far, against five-plus rushers or a blitz, Tannehill has completed 61.8 percent of passes with a QBR of 71.5 (that's good), according to ESPN Stats & Information. And it's not a tiny sample -- only Drew Brees has faced more blitz pressure, and Brees has completed passes at a lower rate (58.9 percent).
Tannehill has wideout-level athleticism -- colleague Todd McShay clocked him at a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at his pro day -- and it's something he's starting to show in the pocket. He has missteps but shows pretty good instincts when tacklers are nearby. Young quarterbacks often struggle when the pocket collapses, because the instinct is to move backward, away from pressure. Not only can that bring rushing defensive ends back into play, it makes throws longer, and gives defenders added time in coverage. In watching the tape from his first five starts, Tannehill is showing an instinctive ability to climb the pocket and step through edge pressure. In last week's win at Cincinnati, he constantly frustrated the pass rush with his feet, moving laterally and through the pocket, looking occasionally like an Aaron Rodgers knock-off.
"That sense of pressure transfers," Rossley said. "Receivers start with safeties behind them, turn upfield into pressure -- they can't just move backward."
Because of his ability to extend plays combined with his great arm strength, Tannehill has opened up a deep passing game Miami wasn't supposed to have. Rookie quarterbacks often are asked to keep it simple, check it down and get plays called to minimize reads. Reroll the tape of RG3 in Week 1 at New Orleans for an example. But currently, Tannehill is second in the NFL in completion percentage on passes that travel 21-plus yards and 4-of-7 on bombs, or passes that travel 31-plus yards. He's hitting his spots, too. Arizona corner Patrick Peterson said after Week 4 that Tannehill's ability to hit tight windows was impressive. His experience as a receiver plays a role. In the NFL, Rossley notes, you don't really have "windows" as much as you have an ability to anticipate where a window will open up. If you throw to a void, it will close by the time the ball arrives. If you throw to where a void will be, you have a chance. "One word," Rossley said. "Anticipation. He has a better sense of it than probably anyone I've coached."
The anticipation is part familiarity. Tannehill has gone to a system under former A&M head coach Mike Sherman that gives back in local knowledge what the rookie lacks in experience. But it's not just the routes; Tannehill also calls the same protections he did at A&M and can use the same terminology. Miami may lack pass-catching talent, but the QB with a biology degree and a backup plan to be a surgeon isn't lost in translation.
Compared to fellow rookies, Tannehill isn't some wunderkind. But context matters. Other rookies were given immediate help while Tannehill saw his best pass-catcher leave, and Miami's 15 dropped passes haven't helped. Luck and RG3 started for three full years (or more) in college while Tannehill was still catching passes well into his junior year. Of the three, Tannehill might have the third-best rookie season. But he was supposed to be a total project. Now he appears to have the ceiling of a star.