The NFL Draft roller coaster is starting to pick up speed. And with just three weeks left until the first round begins April 26, Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill seems to be the player whose car is ascending faster up the track than anyone else’s right now.
Suddenly, thanks to a superb on-campus pro day, Tannehill has scouts and general managers and draft experts feeling incredibly intrigued by his skill set and upside. Which, it just so happens, could impact what the Vikings do with the No. 3 pick.
How, you ask? No, General Manager Rick Spielman has no interest in drafting Tannehill, the Vikings still very much behind Christian Ponder as their designated quarterback of the future. But Spielman would be wise to aggressively promote the growing hype around Tannehill in an effort to enhance the value of his No. 3 pick.
Spielman has never hidden the fact that he’d be interested in trading the third pick in the first round if a collection of picks offered by another team were appealing enough. Yes, there would be an inherent risk in trading back from No. 3, where a handful of blue-chip prospects will certainly be available. But if Spielman has supreme confidence in his draft evaluation skills and can acquire multiple first-round picks in return for No. 3, well, then it just might be worth pulling the trigger on a deal.
So how would that materialize? If a quarterback needy team like Miami, which picks eighth overall, loves Tannehill but fears Cleveland might nab him first at No. 4, they could get antsy and start talking trade with the Vikings to get up to No. 3. Less realistic but still possible, if Cleveland falls madly in love with Tannehill but fears Miami or another team moving up into the No. 3 slot to take him, perhaps they would dial the Vikings’ line with trade offers.
Other teams that might feel the urge to gamble on Tannehill include Kansas City (picking at No. 11), Seattle (No. 12), Arizona (No. 13) and Philadelphia (No. 15). It’s hard to say which of those teams would have overwhelming interest in Tannehill and impossible to speculate on just how high they’d want to climb the draft board to get him. But what is certain is that the more Tannehill’s pre-draft legend grows, the better it could be for the Vikings.
With all that in mind, here’s the scouting report on Tannehill from ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, an assessment Spielman might want to put on fancy brochures and start mailing out to front offices around the league.
Said McShay: “I think Tannehill has everything you look for in a future franchise quarterback if you develop him properly and if you’re willing to be patient. … He has all the physical tools – the size, the arm strength, the accuracy which continues to improve. He has the right mentality. He can handle pressure. And he has just intangibles through the roof.”
Once again, McShay points out that this is a quarterback-driven league, which is exactly why the pre-draft value of an unknown commodity like Tannehill is rising like it has.
“We haven’t seen Adrian Peterson win a Super Bowl,” McShay said. “We haven’t seen Andre Johnson win a Super Bowl. If you have a great quarterback you win Super Bowls. And I think Tannehill has a chance, if developed properly and you’re patient with him, to become a great quarterback.”