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Ryan Tannehill and the Chiefs…

Posted Apr 21, 2012

The question Kansas City must answer regarding this year’s most debated prospect

The Ryan Tannehill debate has done nothing but gain steam among Chiefs fans since GM Scott Pioli and Head Coach Romeo Crennel held their annual pre-draft press conference.

Quarterback talk dominated the discussion and Pioli re-iterated the team’s draft philosophy when it comes to selecting the game’s most important position.

“Ultimately, I think every year, if possible, we’d like to find a way to draft a quarterback because it’s just good business and its smart business,” Pioli said. “Now, who that is, when we do it, how we do it, you never know.”

Prior to Pioli’s arrival, the Chiefs had used just two draft picks on quarterbacks from 1998-2008.

Since then, two quarterbacks have been involved in Pioli’s three drafts with the team – Ricky Stanzi as a fifth-round pick last year and the trade of a second-round pick to obtain Matt Cassel in 2009.

Of course, the franchise hasn’t dedicated a first-round pick toward a quarterback in 29 years. Todd Blackledge, who was selected seventh overall in 1983, is the most recent first-round quarterback drafted by Kansas City.

The only positions with longer first-round draft draughts are kicker and punter.

“If you get a good player at that position and you develop him and if you’re set at that position, you can move that player,” Pioli said. “They have a lot of value around the league, as long as you pick the right one.”

So the multi-million dollar surrounding the Chiefs 2012 Draft is whether or not the front office believes Ryan Tannehill truly is, “the right one?”

Before forming your own opinion, consider this.

“In the last eight drafts, there have been 23 quarterbacks taken in the first round; 15 of them are starters,” NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said in a conference call this week. “In that same time frame there have been 82 quarterbacks drafted in rounds two through seven. Out of those 82, seven have become starters.”

Ironically, the Chiefs roster two quarterbacks who fall outside the trend.

Over the last eight drafts, Cassel is in the 8.5% of current starting quarterbacks not drafted in the first round. Cassel was the 230th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Interesting enough, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the only quarterback chosen later than Cassel in ’05 Draft (250th overall) and he fits into the 8.5% as well.

Brady Quinn, on the other hand, is one of the eight quarterbacks selected in the first round to not currently be considered a starter.

“From a statistical perspective, you've got less than a 10% chance of drafting a starting quarterback outside of the first round,” Mayock said. “So I think what's happening in this quarterback-driven league is we are getting a frenzy towards these top guys and it's pushing value up.”

Four quarterbacks were taken in the first round of last year’s draft, which was the initial draft operating under the new CBA’s rookie wage scale (though GMs technically didn’t know the specifics of the wage scale in advance).

Selecting four quarterbacks in the first round of a draft isn’t unheard of (five were selected in the opening round of the 1999 NFL Draft), but the new CBA is blurring traditional rules for selecting quarterbacks.

Rarely would a team have previously considered using a top-15 pick on a developmental quarterback, but the average draft slot of the position seems to be inflating.

“It's intriguing to look at this and go, [Andrew] Luck and [Robert] Griffin, how good is [Ryan] Tannehill; if you take him at face value today with 19 starts, he shouldn't be a Top-10 pick,” Mayock 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 a Top-15 or 20 pick. But, in today's NFL, there's a good chance he will be.”

The values are getting pushed up. Drafting a quarterback now comes with a new set of rules.

While the debate surrounding Tannehill will no doubt continue, the Chiefs must answer just one question if he’s still on the board when the 11th pick rolls around.

Is Ryan Tannehill a franchise quarterback?

Draft History

Third QB taken in the first round since 1990

Year Overall Player School Team
2011 10th Blaine Gabbert Missouri Jaguars
2009 17th Josh Freeman Kansas State Buccaneers
2006 11th Jay Cutler Vanderbilt Broncos
2005 25th Jason Campbell Auburn Redskins
2004 11th Ben Roethlisberger Miami (OH) Steelers
2003 19th Kyle Boller California Ravens
2002 32nd Patrick Ramsey Tulane Redskins
1999 3rd Akili Smith Oregon Bengals

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