Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill is the latest prospect to generate chatter as potential Chiefs first-round pick.
And why not?
The Chiefs walked away impressed with Tannehill after spending one-on-one time with him at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Scouts attended Tannehill’s Pro Day last week, where he completed 65-of-68 passes.
This week, the team will put Tannehill through a private workout.
What does it all mean?
Some will suggest that the Chiefs are starved for a home-grown franchise quarterback. That GM Scott Pioli wants to get into the mode of drafting a quarterback each year. That the team’s interest in Peyton Manning showed intent on exploring new options at quarterback.
Others will suggest that the Chiefs’ recent interest in Tannehill is all smoke and mirrors. A bargaining chip in case Tannehill is still on the board at No. 11.
But, in reality, Kansas City’s interest in Tannehill isn’t about extreme infatuations or a plot to drive trade activity.
With Tannehill, the Chiefs are covering all of their bases. It’s that simple.
For the first time since Kansas City made sweeping changes to its football operations more than three years ago, the team doesn’t have to draft for need in the first round. Plenty of needs remain across the roster, but the starting 22 in vastly improved.
When it comes to choosing a player with the 11th overall pick, the Chiefs are position flexible. That’s why Tannehill could make a lot of sense.
Regardless of whether Tannehill goes to the Browns, Dolphins, Chiefs or some other team, the receiver turned quarterback isn’t likely to be an Opening Day starter.
Loads of athleticism and the ability to throw on the run as well as anyone help project Tannehill as a top-10 pick on most boards. But many of teams holding a top-10 pick need an impact player immediately.
Drafting Tannehill could yield a huge payday down the road, but it’s one that will require patience. Tannehill owns just one full season as a college starter.
Adding Tannehill would complicate things at the position, likely resulting in either Quinn or Stanzi being the odd man out.
Tannehill is an intriguing option, just as Alabama RB Trent Richardson would be if he was still on the board at No. 11. It could happen, which is exactly the reason Kansas City is doing their due diligence on both players leading up to this year’s draft.
Sitting at No. 11 provides the Chiefs with options.
Offensive line remains a significant need with no proven depth behind the projected starting five. Lineman like Iowa T Riley Reiff and Stanford G David Decastro are common mock draft predictions and rightfully so.
Nose tackle is also a need and will be in play come draft day with the Chiefs putting free agency at the position on hold until after the draft. Memphis NT Dontari Poe carries risk, but a ton of upside and could be KC’s guy in the first round. Mississippi State DL Fletcher Cox would also make sense.
How about an all-LSU defensive front with DL Michael Brockers?
The Chiefs return both
With the Chiefs lining up in a nickel defense on nearly half of last season’s snaps, using an early pick on a defensive back is a real possibility as well. A player like Alabama S Mark Barron could be too tempting to pass if still on the board when the Chiefs are on the clock.
The options are aplenty, and that’s before addressing any trade-down possibilities.
But would the Chiefs be bold enough to use the 11th overall pick on a quarterback? It’s a conversation worth having.
The Tannehill File (Pro Football Weekly)
Ryan Tannehill | 6’4” | 220 pounds | Texas A&M
Upside: Charismatic leader; Very athletic with good escapability; Good ball velocity; Extremely smart; Driven competitor; Stays poised with bodies around him; Ran NFL offense.
Downside: Started only one full year and is still raw; Lost four double-digit halftime leads in 2011; Average caretaker – can protect ball better; Forces throws; Suffered postseason injury (broken foot).
Breakdown: An intriguing, athletic quarterback prospect who converted from receiver as a junior and has all the physical tools to develop into an NFL starter. However, is not NFL-ready and will require some times to acclimate to pro game.