While the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets made major investments through the draft this year in hopes of finding their quarterback of the future, the Miami Dolphins charged into the 2013 offseason having already found theirs in Ryan Tannehill. Many criticized the selection of Tannehill all the way up at No. 8 in the 2012 NFL draft as being a “reach” or an overly desperate risk on a quarterback still making the transition from playing wide receiver in college, but the dividends this rookie paid have already helped put Miami behind only the New England Patriots in most AFC East projections for the upcoming season.
His line of 3,294 yards and a 76.1 quarterback rating won’t wow anyone, but for a rookie considered to be a project quarterback playing in an offense devoid of any truly dangerous receiving options, this isn’t half-bad. Throw in his ability to handle pressure — the damning factor for many an NFL quarterback — and it’s hard not to feel optimistic about his future: Tannehill received the fourth-highest Pro Football Focus grade while dropping back against pressure, behind only Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
Granted, Tannehill’s year was outshined by fellow rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson — and deservedly so. But the addition of Mike Wallace as the team’s primary deep threat and moving Brian Hartline to more of a No. 2 role should help Tannehill display an underutilized part of his game that helped make him such an intriguing pro prospect, his upper-echelon arm strength.
The maturation of Tannehill as a passer could very well have more impact this year than the slew of big-name signings in Miami.