Tannehill doesn't have to start as a rookie to prove himself.
The top 10 in the NFL draft is typically full of Week 1 starters, and although it's not the first time a team has selected a developmental quarterback in the first round (see: Tebow, Tim), it's rarely been done in the top 10. That being said, very few quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 have only started 19 collegiate games at QB, and even fewer were former wide receivers.
What, then, are the expectations and standards for Tannehill? We'll have to wait until the quarterback battle is decided in training camp to find out, because according to head coach Joe Philbin, the practice field will be where we get our answers:
In his office Friday afternoon, Philbin pointed to the practice fields outside and said: "Out there is where we're going to find out about Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore and David Garrard. I don't remember a master plan that said, 'Here's when Ryan's going to play.' If there is one, I was never told about it. We'll let them come to work, and the best man will win."'
At present, Tannehill is competing for the starting job, and in one sense, he has a bit of a leg up on his competition. Mike Sherman, Tannehill's former head coach at Texas A&M and the current offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, brought much of the same offense with him to Miami.
"I would probably say 65 to 70 [percent] is the exact same, pretty much, and the other 15 that I'm familiar with is pretty much just changing of a few words," he said. "But it's basically the exact same thing."
Tannehill knows the offense well enough that he served as an "extra coach" for the Dolphins offense in practice. According to the Post, "Tannehill...spent just as much time helping his new teammates Friday as he did working on his own game."
So, Tannehill will have a chance to compete for the starting job, and he already knows the offense. Clearly, the Dolphins want to see what he has at some point; they didn't draft him to ride the bench.
But is now the right time?
Even if he earns the starting job, it might be wise to let him ride the pine for the beginning of the season, if not the entire year. He may have experience with the playbook, but there's one kind of experience Matt Moore and David Garrard have that Tannehill doesn't: starting NFL experience.
Of course, Tannehill can't get that until he's given the opportunity to start. But the Dolphins have a lot of question marks on offense, specifically at wide receiver, and they would be wise to wait for someone to step forward with some answers before expecting Tannehill to carry the load.
The Dolphins spent two draft picks—albeit very late ones—on wide receivers B.J. Cunningham and Rishard Matthews, and with Clyde Gates, Legedu Naanee and others coming with their own levels of potential, the possibility is there to find some diamonds in the rough.
With so much uncertainty at wide receiver, one thing is certain: Either the West Coast offense reveals a hidden gem in the Dolphins' depth chart, or they will have to wait until next offseason to stock up at the position. Either way, it's in their best interest to wait and see what they have before rushing Tannehill onto the field only to find out the hard way.
Make no mistake: If Tannehill is starting Week 1, the expectation should be that he's ready to go. If he's not starting out of the gate, all he can do to prove himself is be ready if and when called upon, be as studious as possible from the bench and be patient in the process of his development.
The Dolphins as a team have just as much to prove as Tannehill, if not even more. Because it's not just about Tannehill readiness for the NFL, it's about the Dolphins' readiness for Tannehill.
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