Coach Pete Carroll likes Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Which is fine, as long as he doesn’t use the Seahawks’ No. 1 draft pick on him. Send him chocolates or something.
He had a really good workout,” Carroll said Monday, and I’m putting spaces between words for comprehension, not because he had pauses between them.
“He did a great job. It was great to see how physical he was. He ran really fast. Hes a strong, tough kid. The fact that he was a receiver in his earlier years could have tainted the overall (rating) of the kid but I kind of liked it that he was physical and tough enough to do that. It was fun to see the kid compete so hard and he came through. Thats part of the deal, you know. Did they come through on that day for themselves? Its a big build-up for those kids and itsoneofthethingsyoucanevaluateaswellasthearmstrengthandthephysicality.”
Damn. The words came too fast. Couldn’t pry them apart. Do your best, reader.
Carroll can wrap himself verbally over many an axle, but when he starts to foam about quarterbacks is when Seahawks fans get deservedly sweaty.
I believe the clinical term for Carroll’s condition is Manning-Whitehurstian Syndrome, which causes dizziness, blurry vision and uncontrolled desires to sit in private jets on tarmacs at Denver airports.
Carroll had so many good quarterbacks at USC that he tends to see the world behind center in Trojan colors. But as has been pointed out to him numerous times, relative to their respective empires, the Seahawks aren’t the Trojans. Tannehill isn’t the next Matt Leinart. Actually, maybe he is, which is even worse.
The Seahawks have the 12th pick in the draft Thursday. They have no business using it on Tannehill. Carroll didn’t say he would, but the gleam, the words . . . scary.
It has little to do with the fact that Tannehill’s post-season workouts freight-trained him from second-round material to top 10 in the first round, according to some scouts. Despite only 19 starts at Texas A&M (he was earlier a wide receiver, Carroll reminded us, swooning), Tannehill is said to be under consideration by no less a QB guru that Mike Holmgren with the Cleveland Browns pick at No. 4, as well as at No. 8 by the QB-needy Miami Dolphins.
So the temptation may be removed from Carroll long before No. 12. But what if Tannehill is there?
Didn’t they just fix quarterback with the free-agent signing of low-mileage, high-performance veteran Matt Flynn last month? Won’t they have a substantial backup in Tarvaris Jackson, who exceeded most expectations as the starter in 2011? Is it against the Carroll house rules to have on the roster a player more than one season removed from his training wheels?
I know the circumstance is tough on Carroll. Here he is, in his third draft in Seattle, and he hasn’t taken a quarterback yet. And I’ll admit to some bias on the topic. I was around for the Seahawks selections in the 1990s of Rick Mirer, Dan McGwire and Kelly Stouffer, and I remember Ryan Leaf at Washington State. First rounders, all. Football Hindenburgs.
I realize I should forget that the franchise long ago invested the equivalent of the GNP of India in QB busts. Then again, it was just two years ago Carroll and GM John Schneider gave up a third-round choice in the 2011 draft, as well as swapping their second-round pick at No. 40 to take pick No. 60, to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst, the Chargers’ No. 3 QB who had never thrown a pass in an NFL regular-season game.
What in the name of Chuck Knox for?
“Charlie,” said Carroll, “has tremendous talent and upside and we are very excited to watch him develop and help our football team.”
Does every coach get a draft mulligan? Sure. So Carroll has used his. He doesn’t get to have Tannehill when there are quality players at No. 12 who can have immediate impact next season, particularly if they get a pass rusher who is more than the ambulatory pile of rocks that Aaron Curry turned out to be.
Aside from rare talents such as Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor, the problem with drafting QBs in the first round is that teams often are tempted play to the investment, forcing players into jobs for which they are unprepared.
NFL draft expert Mike Mayock offered up a telling tale this week: In the last eight years, 65 percent of QBs drafted in the first round (15 of 23) became starters. Only 8.5 percent (7 of 82) drafted beyond the first round became starters.
Didn’t mean that those 15 guys should be starting. But the club had to justify the pick. That’s how teams end up with busts such as JaMarcus Russell, David Carr, Heath Shuler, Cade McNown, etc.
As Mayock put it: “Because of the value placed on the franchise quarterback in this league, because the salary cap is now friendly in the first round toward these quarterbacks, and because everyone is in a feeding frenzy to get one, these guys values are getting pushed up.”
In his many lucid moments, Carroll knows about rookie QB inflation. In fact, he mentioned Monday that the pressure for quick success can ruin a QB when others, such as Steve Young, Rich Gannon, Vinny Testaverde and Kurt Warner, flourish in later years.
“The circumstances of how a guy begins his career can weigh in heavily in how it turns out,” he said. “I would think that theres a number of quarterbacks who, under different circumstances, would still be playing the game but they got exposed early on and didnt really have a chance to really find their confidence, which is so crucial at this position.
“Theres all kinds of guys who looked like they werent going to be able to play the position. They outlast that first cycle, they stay and learn. The game slows down and they become very, very obvious students of the game.”
All quite true. But that will be then and this would be now for the Seahawks — coming off successive 7-9 seasons and positioned, health permitting, to do better. Given so many draft busts at all positions in recent years, not to mention the QB disasters of yore, Thursday’s first round is the time to invest in large, square men who are strong and mean.
Let Ryan Tannehill attempt to be wonderful somewhere else. Seashawks fans are not quite done searching for Whitehurst’s upside.