There seem to be fewer players in the NFL Draft more polarizing than Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill. He’s either just a step away from Baylor’s Robert Griffin III or a creation of quarterback needy teams scrambling for an answer, nothing more than second-rounder masquerading as a top 10 pick.
No matter how you feel, the Kansas City Chiefs are right in the middle of the Tannehill discussion. They attended the Texas A&M pro day, held a private workout with him and then hosted a private visit to Kansas City.
Leading up to the draft there are a million hands being played by every team. You want to do your due diligence speaking with prospects you have concerns about or are interested in. At the same time, it’s a necessity to send out mixed signals while trying to keep other teams in the dark about your plans.
In this case, GM Scott Pioli could simply be trying to boost the buzz for Tannehill. If he happens to still be on the board when the Chiefs draft at 11, certainly a team interested in the Aggie will need to up the ante in order to make a deal.
Of course the Chiefs could be ready to go all in here. Maybe they’ve fallen in love and are convinced Tannehill is going to be the next great quarterback. I just don’t see it.
Even the biggest Tannehill supporter will tell you he is at least a year away from being an NFL starting quarterback. Remember, he was a receiver for A&M until the middle of his junior season and only started 20 games under center in his career.
Whatever team makes the call on Tannehill will need to be patient. The current Chiefs regime may not have that sort of time to play with. Even after a last place 7-9 season, Kansas City is not in any sort of rebuilding mode and has the talent to win now.
In addition to returning most of the players from a team that somehow nearly stole a playoff berth, the Chiefs will also be adding impact players at running back (Jamaal Charles), safety (Eric Berry) and tight end (Tony Moeaki).
A final year of Cassel under center — with him knowing he’s out the door — and then a transition season in 2013 while Tannehill gains experience isn’t likely to help Crennel earn a commitment beyond his current three-year deal and would put Pioli on thin ice.
Again, maybe the Chiefs are convinced Tannehill can get the job done now and going forward as the franchise quarterback they have been searching for all these years. It’s just the type of risk Pioli has shown any indication he’s willing to take.