BY Art Thiel 08:00AM 04/24/2012

Thiel: Seahawks, Tannehill — oh, please, no

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.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can get very excited talking about quarterbacks, even Charlie Whitehurst. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

When he was asked about quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Pete Carroll lit up like Bobby Petrino at volleyball practice.

“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. He’s 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. That’s part of the deal, you know. Did they come through on that day for themselves? It’s a big build-up for those kids and it’soneofthethingsyoucanevaluateaswellasthearmstrengthandthephysicality.”

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?

Gah.

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.”

Um, no.

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 there’s a number of quarterbacks who, under different circumstances, would still be playing the game but they got exposed early on and didn’t really have a chance to really find their confidence, which is so crucial at this position.

“There’s all kinds of guys who looked like they weren’t 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.


YourThoughts

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcrockett17 David Crockett

    You have the right conclusion but the wrong rationale. 

    I don’t think Seattle will draft Tannehill even if he’s available at #12. That’s just not good value. Pete’s gushing is about as close as this team comes to officially smokescreening. I think Carroll genuinely likes Tannehill, but more importantly he wants Seattle’s name tied to the QB in hopes that someone will be tempted to trade up to get him at #12. (I’m looking at you Mike Holmgren, for that late first round choice and perhaps a fourth?)

    I think you are spot on about Tannehill’s upside AND bust potential. With so few starts he will need a team to be patient. It’s common knowledge that Seattle liked Blaine Gabbert a lot, and he was a better prospect than Tannehill. Yet, we all saw what can happen when a guy who isn’t ready sees the field too soon. 

    I’m fairly convinced that unless we see a radical shake-up of the board, Seattle will choose one of the three pass rushers likely to be on the board at 12. That’s Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, and N. Carolina’s Quinton Coples. 

    • Lee

      Are you implying that Pistol Pete is not telling the truth? A USC guy? What is the world coming to!

      Next you will tell me hid recruiting at USC was not above board.

      Good post.

    • JimC

      You can spend all your time blowing smoke and still draft Aaron Curry.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcrockett17 David Crockett

    You have the right conclusion but the wrong rationale. 

    I don’t think Seattle will draft Tannehill even if he’s available at #12. That’s just not good value. Pete’s gushing is about as close as this team comes to officially smokescreening. I think Carroll genuinely likes Tannehill, but more importantly he wants Seattle’s name tied to the QB in hopes that someone will be tempted to trade up to get him at #12. (I’m looking at you Mike Holmgren, for that late first round choice and perhaps a fourth?)

    I think you are spot on about Tannehill’s upside AND bust potential. With so few starts he will need a team to be patient. It’s common knowledge that Seattle liked Blaine Gabbert a lot, and he was a better prospect than Tannehill. Yet, we all saw what can happen when a guy who isn’t ready sees the field too soon. 

    I’m fairly convinced that unless we see a radical shake-up of the board, Seattle will choose one of the three pass rushers likely to be on the board at 12. That’s Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, and N. Carolina’s Quinton Coples. 

    • Lee

      Are you implying that Pistol Pete is not telling the truth? A USC guy? What is the world coming to!

      Next you will tell me hid recruiting at USC was not above board.

      Good post.

    • JimC

      You can spend all your time blowing smoke and still draft Aaron Curry.

  • Jamo57

    Thanks for the morning chuckles, always a good way to start the day.     Pre-draft press conferences are always good for blowing smoke and these two can blow smoke with the best of them. (Remember the twitter feeds with songs with hidden draft clues?)   I could see them trading down, picking up some picks and then drafting someone no one has ever heard of if they think the LBs or DEs are too risky at number 12.

    Or maybe they weren’t blowing smoke, just making everyone think they were blowing smoke.   

    Or maybe….

  • Jamo57

    Thanks for the morning chuckles, always a good way to start the day.     Pre-draft press conferences are always good for blowing smoke and these two can blow smoke with the best of them. (Remember the twitter feeds with songs with hidden draft clues?)   I could see them trading down, picking up some picks and then drafting someone no one has ever heard of if they think the LBs or DEs are too risky at number 12.

    Or maybe they weren’t blowing smoke, just making everyone think they were blowing smoke.   

    Or maybe….

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  • http://twitter.com/nandron Nick Andron

    Cute article. So as a recap, these are the reasons (for not drafting Tannehill) that you list:

    1. He started his college career as a wideout – Is there proof that converted players have a higher rate of failure in the NFL?
    2. He started only 19 games as a QB. Is there even a definitive link between college starts and NFL effectiveness? 
    3. Other QBs have busted past years when drafted in the first round.
    4. The Seahawks signed a free-agent QB that has started two NFL games. 

    Did reading any of the many scouting reports across the web cross your mind, perhaps? You know – things that actually provide a window into Ryan Tannehill the potential NFL QB?This article is quite surprising coming from you, Art, because it’s so, so poorly argued.

  • http://twitter.com/nandron Nick Andron

    Cute article. So as a recap, these are the reasons (for not drafting Tannehill) that you list:

    1. He started his college career as a wideout – Is there proof that converted players have a higher rate of failure in the NFL?
    2. He started only 19 games as a QB. Is there even a definitive link between college starts and NFL effectiveness? 
    3. Other QBs have busted past years when drafted in the first round.
    4. The Seahawks signed a free-agent QB that has started two NFL games. 

    Did reading any of the many scouting reports across the web cross your mind, perhaps? You know – things that actually provide a window into Ryan Tannehill the potential NFL QB?This article is quite surprising coming from you, Art, because it’s so, so poorly argued.

  • Rusty

    Loved the lead…I just about blew coffee all over my monitor.

  • Rusty

    Loved the lead…I just about blew coffee all over my monitor.

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  • Lover

    Poor argument, we have 2 serviceable qbs on the roster, tannehill would be 3rd string and wouldnt play this  year. Heck maybe Flynn turns out to be a good QB and tannehill sits for 4 years… Topple that with a good running game and solid defense, Seattle makes the most sense opposed to Cleveland, Miami, Indy, or Washington. oh and uh… face

  • Lover

    Poor argument, we have 2 serviceable qbs on the roster, tannehill would be 3rd string and wouldnt play this  year. Heck maybe Flynn turns out to be a good QB and tannehill sits for 4 years… Topple that with a good running game and solid defense, Seattle makes the most sense opposed to Cleveland, Miami, Indy, or Washington. oh and uh… face

  • Soggyblogger

    Fun story. I learned very little, but I am not complaining. Do what you do best, Art. Be funny. The world is full of serious writers, especially in the sports field. I couldn’t wade through all your serious stuff while you were in Tokyo. I might have missed a few laughs hidden in there somewhere, but you seemed infused with a Japanese seriousness while in Tokyo. 

    You have been ignoring the draft more than most sports writers, and I am hoping you will chime in with a Mock Draft. Or a Mock the draft story. Or maybe a sockem mockem draft story…..

  • Soggyblogger

    Fun story. I learned very little, but I am not complaining. Do what you do best, Art. Be funny. The world is full of serious writers, especially in the sports field. I couldn’t wade through all your serious stuff while you were in Tokyo. I might have missed a few laughs hidden in there somewhere, but you seemed infused with a Japanese seriousness while in Tokyo. 

    You have been ignoring the draft more than most sports writers, and I am hoping you will chime in with a Mock Draft. Or a Mock the draft story. Or maybe a sockem mockem draft story…..

  • Brad

    I don’t understand your argument here. You’re saying not to take a QB in the first round because they are usually failures. True enough, I guess, but some of them turn out to be great. 

    If anything I would say that, so far in PC’s tenure, this is the best year to risk a first round bust. Given the moves made in free agency to help fix some glaring needs on the roster, added with Schneider’s knack for finding talent in the later rounds and UDFAs, I don’t see a position where the Hawks NEED to go in round one.

    Also, can we please let the Whitehurst situation go. They went out and got a back up QB. It also turned out they ended up needing a decent(ish) backup QB that year. Did they pay too much for him, maybe. Did it do any long term damage to the club, no. Ask a Cardinals fans what paying too much for QB feels like. 

  • Brad

    I don’t understand your argument here. You’re saying not to take a QB in the first round because they are usually failures. True enough, I guess, but some of them turn out to be great. 

    If anything I would say that, so far in PC’s tenure, this is the best year to risk a first round bust. Given the moves made in free agency to help fix some glaring needs on the roster, added with Schneider’s knack for finding talent in the later rounds and UDFAs, I don’t see a position where the Hawks NEED to go in round one.

    Also, can we please let the Whitehurst situation go. They went out and got a back up QB. It also turned out they ended up needing a decent(ish) backup QB that year. Did they pay too much for him, maybe. Did it do any long term damage to the club, no. Ask a Cardinals fans what paying too much for QB feels like. 

  • Hume Cory

    Seems like the Vikings at #3 could be pushing the QB Guru Holmgren has him  under consideration rumor. Trade down with the Dolphins? Qbs 123?

  • Hume Cory

    Seems like the Vikings at #3 could be pushing the QB Guru Holmgren has him  under consideration rumor. Trade down with the Dolphins? Qbs 123?

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