[Ed. Note: Great Fan Post from KVin2 on the draft's biggest question mark. Nice work.]
The Chiefs' Josh Looney posted an article today on the website and via Facebook on the Chiefs' history of (not) drafting quarterbacks, and the biggest question they have to answer this year is if Tannehill will be a franchise QB. It generated opinions from "he's the next Manning/Brady!" to "he was a WR for two years, he's the next Ryan Leaf".
The fact of the matter is anyone who tells you they know Tannehill will be the next Manning/Brady or the next Ryan Leaf has no clue what they're talking about. Does he have the potential to be the next Manning/Brady? Absolutely. He did play WR for a couple years so he knows the routes and would have good chemistry with them. He also has the arm and a lot of the skills you want in a franchise QB (mobility, size, ability to throw on the run, etc.). However, he also may never live up to his potential. It happens, for whatever reason. Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, JaMarcus Russell, and Tim Couch were all players who failed in the NFL and were much more highly touted than Tannehill coming out of college. Tannehill could go either way.
The draft produces busts every year, but it happens more frequently with quarterbacks because of the importance of the position; expectations are simply much higher. Anyone remember Robert Gallery? Offensive tackle from Iowa, selected second overall by the Raiders in 2004? Played exceptionally well at RT, was moved to LT, and then was a bust. So what did the Raiders do? Moved him to LG, where he's enjoyed a productive (not to mention lucrative) career. Your first-round CB keeps getting burned in coverage? Move him to safety. With other positions you have options if a player doesn't pan out, which is not true of the QB. With a few exceptions (Antwaan Randel El, Tim Tebow, et al.), if a QB can't throw or win games there really aren't other options for him. Which brings us back to Tannehill.
Tannehill did play WR for two years at Texas A&M before stepping into the starting quarterback role. At 6'4", 220 lbs, his floor as an NFL player is probably a possession receiver, emergency QB, and someone who could add some spice to a team's playbook (trick plays and such). Now if you get that out of say, a 6th round pick? Not a terrible return on your investment. But that's not what you want out of your first round pick. So the question really is of value vs. risk. Mike Maycock of NFL.com has some really interesting insights as to why Tannehill will be taken so high.
"From a statistical perspective, you've got a less than 10% chance of drafting a starting quarterback from outside of the first round," says Maycock. "So what I think is happening in this quarterback-driven league is we are getting a frenzy towards these top guys and it's pushing [the value of the quarterback position] up."
As the game continues to evolve into a passing-driven league, the craze of reaching for first-round quarterbacks is only going to increase under the new CBA. For instance, Sam Bradford (the last QB taken first overall under the old CBA), got a $50 million contract. Cam Newton (the first QB taken first overall under the new CBA), only got $22 million. It has become less financially crippling for teams to make mistakes on QB's taken in the top-10. Look at last year. Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were all drafted in the top-12, and all of them were drafted on potential. Teams will continue to draft QB's in the first round based on need and potential rather than proven production.
"It's intriguing to look at this and go, Luck and Griffin, how good is Tannehill; if you take him at face value today with 19 starts, he shouldn't be a top-10 pick," Maycock said. "He's got a lot of potential, I love the kid, I love his work ethic, I love his potential, but he shouldn't be a top-10 pick. Maybe not even a top-15 or 20 pick. But, in today's NFL, there's a good chance he will be."
I don't think the Chiefs should draft Tannehill, and it has nothing to do with me thinking he will be a bust or not. It's all about the value associated with the pick. For the Chiefs to draft him, they will probably have to trade up with the Jags to the seventh pick. After losing the Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn sweepstakes, Miami is desperate for a QB and will more than likely take him with the eighth pick. To move up those four spots, it will probably cost KC the 11th pick and their third-rounder. That's two potential starters the Chiefs are giving up for a quarterback who probably won't play this year. If you're drafting a QB in the top-10, he should start right away.
Barring major injuries like last year, the Chiefs have a real shot to win the division this season behind a much-improved defense from 2010 and a stellar collection of skill players on the offensive side of the ball. Cassel proved he can win in 2010 (he's never going to be Peyton Manning, but hey, the Bears went to the Super Bowl with Sexy Rexy, and Cassel is a far better QB), and the Chiefs have better skill players around him now than they did in 2010. I will be the first to admit that if Cassel can't win this year, with this collection of players around him, then he's clearly not the answer and the Chiefs need a new QB. But this year Tannehill will not be appreciably better than Cassel, and possibly not even Brady Quinn. The other thing to consider when looking at Cassel is that he still has a very strong supporter in Scott Pioli, who I think wants to still give him the chance to succeed.
This year the value is simply not there for the Chiefs to take Tannehill in the first round, whether in a trade up to 7 or if he falls to the Chiefs at 11. The Chiefs have the opportunity to fill some major, pressing holes in the roster (ILB, NT, and OG) with players that could start or be rotation players right away, as opposed to taking a QB who will have to sit for a year or two in order to fully develop. A first three rounds of something like Luke Kuechly (ILB, Boston College), Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin) and Alameda Ta'amu (NT, Washington) would go a long way to improving the Chiefs on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. A trade down from the 11th pick would also be a good option to pick up some additional picks in the second or third rounds. At the end of the day drafting Tannehill would simply cost the Chiefs too much to be worth the risk for a player who won't start this year and may not pan out. It would set the Chiefs back in trying to improve the rest of the roster without getting adequate value in return.