Draft Is All About Ryan Tannehill For KC Chiefs

Regardless of whether or not you are on the “Draft Ryan Tannehill” bandwagon, you have to admit that the much-debated QB could and should be at the center of Kansas City’s draft plans.

The Chiefs need Tannehill, either on their roster or still available when their number is called Thursday night. For weeks now, it has been predicted that Tannehill would either land with the Browns at #4 or the Dolphins at #8. While the Browns buzz seems to have cooled, the Dolphins/Tannehill rumors are more perplexing than Todd Haley’s 2011 preseason strategy.

No matter what else happens in the first 10 picks Thursday night, the best thing that could happen to the Chiefs is Ryan Tannehill getting past the Dolphins at #8 and landing on their lap at #11.

For starters, the Chiefs don’t have a franchise QB. Whether or not you believe Tannehill will become a franchise QB is irrelevant. All that matters is what the Chiefs think. Scott Pioli knows his team, he knows Matt Cassel and he knows the other QBs on his roster*. Since 2009, Pioli’s drafts have been pretty solid. He hasn’t taken too many big risks and most of his picks, even if you aren’t wild about them, have resulted in the Chiefs securing players that have contributed and added to the squad’s depth. If Pioli decides to pull the trigger on Tannehill, we’ll know he really believes in his potential because he very well could be betting his job on the Texas A&M prospect.

Even if you aren’t a believer in Tannehill, you’d better hope you are wrong and Pioli is right should the Chiefs take him in the first.

*He knows Brady Quinn by proxy, thanks to Romeo Crennel.

If the Chiefs aren’t thrilled with Tannehill as a first-round prospect, they’ve done the right thing by thoroughly checking him out. They know there are questions about Matt Cassel and they know the rest of the league knows they went after Peyton Manning. Pioli has also gone on the record that he would like to select a QB every year in the draft. The Chiefs have looked at most all of the QB prospects expected to go in the first and second round. The Chiefs could take a QB at any time in this draft. They know it, we know it and so do the other 31 NFL teams.

If Tannehill slips out of the top 10 to #11, everything changes. Thanks to the new CBA, Tannehill is a bit more valuable at #11 than at #10. All first-round rookies will be able to be signed to four-year contracts with a fifth-year option. The option for the first 10 picks in the draft is significantly more expensive than picks 11-32. So for a team really hoping to move up to get their man, getting him at 11 instead of 10 would be a home run. Getting a potential franchise QB at 11 instead of 10 would be a grand slam.

Here is a great example, using Tannehill, from Peter King’s MMQB column:

For picks 1 through 10 of the first round, that fifth-year salary will be the transition number, the average of the top 10 salaries at the position that season. For picks 11 through 32, the fifth-year salary will be the average of the third through 25th salaries at the position that year.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s use Tannehill. The transition number for quarterbacks this year is $14.3 million. The average of the third through 25th quarterback salary this year is $8.1 million. Who knows what the numbers will look like in May 2015, but they probably won’t be smaller, or the gulf narrower. In other words, if you pick Tannehill at eight, you’ll be paying $6.2 million more in a five-year deal for him than if you picked Tannehill at 12. Crazy. But true.

Once Tannehill slips past #8, the Chiefs are in the catbird seat. Nobody is going to take him in picks #9 or #10. It is highly unlikely anyone is going to try to trade to #10 to get ahead of the Chiefs. If someone wants Tannehill, their first call will be to Scott Pioli. Depending on where that team is coming from, the Chiefs could find themselves with an extra second round pick just for moving back a few spots in the first round. If that were to happen and Pioli likes a second round QB better than Tannehill, the Chiefs could walk away with their QB of the future AND a first and second round selections at other positions.

Like him or not, KC fans should be rooting for Tannehill to be drafted 11th overall, either by the Chiefs or someone else.

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