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Two-Minute Drill

STAFF WRITER

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 02:04


After months of training, scouting and speculating, the 2012 NFL Draft is here. On Thursday, April 26, the NFL will welcome 32 new players who will lookiTw to make an impact on their respective teams. For 30 first-round hopefuls, when and where they will be selected is a mystery. The two men at the top of the draft, however, can breathe easy with the certainty of knowing who will select them.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was told will  be selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the first pick in the draft, while the Washington Redskins have made it clear that they will be selecting Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III when they traded for the second pick in the draft. This would mark only the fourth time since 1991 that two quarterbacks were selected with the first two picks.

Every year, draft experts make “Big Boards”,  lists of the best players available regardless of position. Every year, quarterbacks that are listed lower will be prioritized and drafted above players who are considered “better” picks. Quarterback is the most important position on the field and recently they have been drafted as such. Last year, six quarterbacks were selected wihin the first 36 picks. Four of those quarterbacks started in games during their rookie seasons.

The importance of drafting quarterbacks, however, is not unfounded. Of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, 20 were selected in the first round. Drew Brees, Matt Schaub and Tom Brady were drafted in the second, third and sixth rounds respectively. They represent the only franchise quarterbacks not taken in the first round. Tony Romo is the only current franchise quarterback to be undrafted.

While selecting a player higher than his indicated value is considered a reach, the quarterback position is treated slightly different.

Quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman and Mark Sanchez were all considered reaches when drafted. All but Sanchez have proven to be franchise-caliber quarterbacks, however, and have greatly impacted their teams.

Due to the increased emphasis on passing in today’s NFL, quarterbacks can justifiably be selected before their value would normally dictate.

After the 2011 NCAA football season, USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones surprisingly decided to stay in school. Along with Luck and Griffin III, they would have been virtual locks to be selected in the first round of the draft. With Barkley and Jones out of the quarterback mix, however, attention immediately turned to the third best quarterback in the draft, former Texas A&M; quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill went to Texas A&M; in 2007 as a redshirt quarterback. In 2008, new A&M; coach Mike Sherman moved Tannehill to wide receiver after he came in third in the team’s quarterback competition. He used his great athleticism to amass 112 receptions for 1,596 yards and 10 touchdowns during his redshirt freshman, sophomore and half of his junior seasons.

During his junior season, he was able to take reps at practice as a quarterback. The coaches were impressed by the way he played during practice, and in a game against Kansas, Tannehill played quarterback, splitting time with incumbent starter Jerrod Johnson. Tannehill finished the game with 12 out of 16 completions and three touchdowns.

As a starter during his junior season, Tannehill managed the team as they knocked off No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 9 Nebraska. He finished his junior year with seven starts at quarterback, a 65 percent completion percentage with 1,638 yards passing and 13 touchdowns with only six interceptions. During his senior season, Tannehill fell victim to one of the worst receiving corps in the nation.

Every game his receivers repeatedly dropped balls or ran the wrong routes.

Despite the ineptitude of his receivers, Tannehill showed off poise, accuracy, arm strength and athleticism while starting all 12 regular season games and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He finished his Texas A&M; career with 484 completions and a 67.8 completion percentage, 5,450 passing yards and 42 touchdowns to go with only 21 interceptions in 20 career starts at quarterback. He also added five rushing touchdowns.

Tannehill has been the hottest story leading up to the draft. He was originally thought to be a mid-second round pick, but has moved up into a sure-fire top-15 pick. Tannehill is one of the purest examples of how importance of position can elevate the draft position.

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