Twenty-nine years to the day the Dolphins picked Dan Marino, they must hope that Ryan Tannehill can bring the ‘Fins back to glory.
After missing on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Robert Griffin III in March, GM Jeff Ireland needed to get out of this draft with a quarterback, and the Dolphins got their signalcaller at No. 8 with Tannehill, reuniting him with his college head coach, Miami’s offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
The reason Ireland needed the quarterback is the pressure from owner Stephen Ross, and it’s very possible that Tannehill is more Ross’ pick than Ireland’s, or new head coach Joe Philbin’s for that matter.
Tannehill likely won’t be ready Week One — and that’s OK, the Dolphins have two veterans in Matt Moore and David Garrard and that can keep pressure off the inexperienced Tannehill — but they needed to make this pick. Tannehill has plenty of raw ability and Sherman knows him better than anyone, which should help the young QB's development to eventually run the West Coast offense.
The good news for Dolphins fans is that Miami did not need to trade up for Tannehill. The bad news: they probably could have traded down, but they couldn't afford to miss out on grabbing a quarterback. Like his new head coach, Tannehill wasn’t his franchise’s first choice. The Dolphins wanted Jeff Fisher and settled for Philbin. The Dolphins wanted multiple quarterbacks before drafting Tannehill.
Tannehill is athletic with a strong arm and good leadership intangibles. The pick is a bit of a reach in terms of Tannehill’s overall grade, but think about the premium at the quarterback position … and now multiply it for a Dolphins franchise that has been desperate for the next great quarterback for more than a decade.
Simply put: the Dolphins needed to make this pick. They weren’t going to trade up, and there wasn’t a defensive player worthy enough to take at No. 8 and then hope to snag QB Brandon Weeden late in the first round or early in the second. The Dolphins have plenty of picks left and can address their other needs (pass rusher, tackle, wide receiver and safety), but their top need was getting a quarterback.
The club put itself in this situation by failing to land quarterbacks in the past (see: Chad Henne) and this offseason. The owner has his quarterback, and now we wait to see if Tannehill joins the ranks of Henne, Cleo Lemon and A.J. Feeley, or if he lives up to his upside and can get the Dolphins back to a perennial playoff team. And maybe it will be a good thing for Tannehill to wait in the wings, maybe for a full season, before being thrust into the spotlight.