With the first and second picks of the 2012 NFL Draft nearing lock status with the top two quarterbacks, where exactly does the third quarterback factor in?
Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill greatly benefitted from the likes of Matt Barkley and Landry Jones when they elected to stay in school for another season. With them in the draft, Tannehill may have snuck in to the first round. Without them? Tannehill's stock is higher than anyone could have possibly dreamed of this time last year.
How high could he be selected?
With the emphasis put on finding that long-term quarterback of the future for desperate franchises, Tannehill is being talked about as a top five pick. Here are some draft positions where he actually might land:
3rd overall - Minnesota Vikings
While the Vikings took Christian Ponder last season, they won't be in the market for a quarterback (unless Andrew Luck astonishingly drops to their pick, which won't happen). The real reason is that the Vikings will be shopping this pick very hard for a quarterback-hungry team that's looking to jump the Cleveland Browns. Possible candidates for such a move are littered through the first 15 picks. It just all depends what type of selling job both the Browns and Vikings do to get a team interested enough to unload a bunch of picks for Tannehill.
4th overall - Cleveland Browns
After his strong pro day, some national pundits have said that they believe Tannehill is a franchise quarterback. That means Tannehill going fourth overall to the Browns is a very real possibility. Mike Holmgren and Pat Shurmur know that Colt McCoy likely isn't the future of their franchise. They will need to weigh exactly what the Vikings did last year with Christian Ponder. Tannehill may be a project at this point, likely not ready to start right away. But is the overall worth of his position enough to sway Holmgren in taking his biggest swing since arriving in Cleveland? With other prospects that have a lower bust rate out there, it's something the Browns may be debating up until their pick on April 26.
6th overall - St. Louis Rams & 7th overall - Jacksonville Jaguars
The Rams and Jaguars are much in the same situation as the Vikings if Tannehill were to drop to this point. Both teams are slotted in front of perhaps the most desperate team in the NFL to find a quarterbacking solution: the Miami Dolphins. With Kansas City, Seattle, Philadelphia and maybe a couple of other teams having interest in Tannehill, all of those franchises know they have to jump up ahead of the eighth spot to land the Texas A&M quarterback. Both St. Louis and Jacksonville have drafted first round quarterbacks in the last two seasons, so it's unlikely either will be the team that ultimately selects Tannehill. But if he drops past Cleveland, business picks up for those two in terms of trade opportunities.
8th overall - Miami Dolphins
Spurned by the likes of Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and ridiculed by many accross the league, the Dolphins may be forced to take Tannehill just to save some face this off-season. The combination of David Garrard and Matt Moore doesn't scare many, leaving Miami in a bad way at the most important position in football. If somehow Tannehill does last to eighth overall, there is a high percentage that he will be the Dolphins pick. They may even trade up to make sure they have the ability of drafting him. But to this point, eighth overall seems like the worst case scenario for Tannehill. Not bad for a guy who is considered a "project" by some.