Leading up to last year's draft, I didn't have the Dolphins picking Ryan Tannehill with the No. 8 overall pick. My rationale was based on three factors:
* Tannehill, who only started 20 games at quarterback at Texas A&M, was too raw a prospect and would be "over-drafted" if taken that high.
* Taking Tannehill would take them out of the quarterback market for the next two or three years and prevent them from potentially taking a higher-end prospect.
* They needed instant-impact players elsewhere, too.
Well, we see how that worked out. The Dolphins did take Tannehill at No. 8, and the kid played pretty well as a rookie, starting all 16 games and leading the Dolphins to a fairly surprising, though unspectacular, 7-9 record.
But I wasn't crazy in thinking that drafting Tannehill was a bit of a risky move. Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland appeared on the team-owned radio show Monday on 940-AM and said the team gambled by investing in Tannehill.
"I think the axiom that you go by in scouting is you like to see a quarterback with 30 starts under his belt before he's ready to play, and we kind of violated that, our principle," Ireland said.
In essence, 2012 was a catch-up season for Tannehill. He's now got 36 starts on his resume, about the same number as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III had in college (Russell Wilson had 50). Tannehill also attended quarterback meetings every day during his first two college seasons when he played wide receiver, because he knew he would eventually take over.
"He's got (36) starts under his belt to this day, and that's huge," Ireland said. "I think we're better for it, I think Ryan is better for it. So now we're kind of going to hopefully see a big jump from that standpoint from his development."
But Ireland said that Tannehill had several positive external factors that led him to draft him at No. 8 despite the lack of starting experience, including "his attitude and makeup and his drive." Tannehill had a 3.6 GPA as a pre-med student at A&M and interviewed well during the pre-draft process. Being a stellar athlete who excelled at wide receiver and quarterback didn't hurt, either.
"It was about really Ryan, and how he presented himself," Ireland said. "He was really, really smart – poised beyond his years, mature beyond his years. And sometimes it's not necessarily the starts, it's the composure, the poise, how smart he is, how quickly he's going to pick things up, and the fact that he'd been in the quarterback room all those years even though he's playing receiver."
"Then we hired a guy in (offensive coordinator) Mike Sherman that had been with him, so you had a lot of things going in the right direction with Ryan."
"I was on him very early, and I liked his athletic skill set. And that's just kind of the way college is going – they're going with the more athletic quarterback. I loved his stature – 6-3 ½, 220 pounds, he runs 4.55 (40-yard dash), and he can throw the ball with accuracy, with timing. Then you add the makeup to it, it was a natural fit for me."
Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland: We violated our principles by drafting Ryan Tannehill
Palm Beach Post | Feb 5