When Johnson struggled early in the 2010 season due to injury, however, Tannehill stepped into the fire and earned great respect from all of college football--and NFL scouts--by leading the team to six consecutive victories and a bowl berth, completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,638 yards and 13 touchdowns against six interceptions.
It's not as though his two seasons as primarily a receiver for the Aggues were unsuccessful. He caught 59 passes for 844 yards and five scores in that 2008 season, earning the team's offensive MVP award as well as Freshman All-American honors.
Tannehill led the team for the second straight year in receiving in 2009 (46-609-4), receiving work at quarterback in three games (completing four of eight passes for 60 yards).
Head coach Mike Sherman thought Tannehill would be the starter in 2011, after Johnson had graduated. The fact he performed so well with the expedited time table, even with a disappointing finish to last season with a loss to LSU in the Cotton Bowl, show his great potential.
Continued improvement reading coverages and completing intermediate throws to go along with his NFL size, intelligent arm strength, and mobility could mean teams will consider him among the best senior prospects.
Accuracy: Very good accuracy in the short passing game, puts ball on the numbers or in a place where receiver can make a play after the catch, even when throwing off his back foot. Quite accurate making plays on the run, squares his shoulders throwing in either direction, has deft touch but also puts some zip on shorter to intermediate throws and places the ball to the outside. Hits open receivers in stride downfield. Generally throws a nice fade to the outside, will underthrow when trying to put too much air under the pass. Makes intermediate throws to the short side of the field, but too often sails throws over the middle or to the sideline from the pocket.
Arm Strength: Possesses an NFL arm. Gets the ball from one hash to the opposite sideline in a hurry. Has the zip to hit tight windows on short and intermediate throws. Tight spiral aids velocity. Flips the ball 20-30 yards downfield on the run.
Setup/Release: Inconsistent release, at times flipping the ball out quickly like Philip Rivers and winding up on other throws. Height and tall, balanced posture in pocket makes it easy to survey the field. Splits time between shotgun and coming out from under center. Takes extra steps in his drop at times. Feels interior pressure too quickly, throws off back foot when unnecessary (though it's still accurate). Pats ball to keep rhythm. Delivery gets a bit sidearm, allows linemen to knock down throws. Not practiced stepping up into the pocket to find room to throw.
Reading Defenses: Sees the field very well when the play breaks down and occasionally changes plays at the line, but needs work recognizing coverages. Will throw his man into a defender, resulting in big hits. Also needs to be cognizant of blitzes and outside pressure, puts himself (and the ball) in danger too often by failing to see late comers and secondary rush. Sells play fake and is patient enough to look to one side of the field before going to primary option on misdirection plays. Stares down receivers too often, NFL-caliber defenders close on his passes to create turnovers.
On the Move: Excellent mobility for his size, not surprising given his success at receiver. Regularly used on bootlegs (with good urgency on play fake) to either side of the formation take advantage of his athleticism. Presses the line running to his left, puts himself into the arms of defenders. Good touch on underneath throws when plays break down. Won't get the corner as easily against NFL defenders, but has the quickness to get chunks of yardage on naked bootlegs and when lanes open in man coverage. Watches the pressure and flushes a bit early, but once in the open he looks for downfield targets. Tough player, but takes too many hits downfield on zone-read plays and scrambles, must learn to slide. Height and slight build bring durability concerns.
Intangibles: Intelligent prospect who is very good student, a regular on first-team Academic All-Big 12 squad who hopes to one day become an orthopedic surgeon. Team player who reveled in the chance to compete on the field at receiver instead of transferring once losing the quarterback battle. Father played quarterback at Texas Tech. Occasional pooch punter."
Is simply a natural football player who has an impressive feel of the game. Despite not having a ton of experience as a college quarterback, did a great job quickly getting away from center, settling his feet into the three-step game, and was balanced/accurate getting the ball out on time.
Possesses a quick release, and exhibits some natural torque from his waist that allows him to really spin the football. Has a good arm, not elite, but his ability to cleanly spin the ball and transfer his weight off his back foot allows him to make all the throws.
Can stick the deep out, displays consistent plant leg placement when striding toward his target, and his ball placement/accuracy are very good in the short/intermediate pass game.
At times gets a bit upright in the pocket, which will take away from his base and ability to really generate power from his legs, but his lower body mechanics should continue to improve with experience.
Is a natural athlete who has a good feel in the pocket, Keeps his eyes down the field when he feels pressure, looks natural stepping up in the pocket, and will deliver the football in the face of pressure. Isn't afraid to stare down the barrel of the shotgun and take a lick.
Can create with his legs once he breaks contain, isn't overly shifty, but has good enough straight-line speed to do damage in the open field. Is decisive in the pocket and has the ability to routinely go through progressions across the field. However, his lack of experience shows up most in his struggles to quickly decipher defenses.
Throws blindly too often when trying to find a secondary read or won't trust what he sees, and forces the ball into coverage. However, his ability to decipher defenses will improve with more time at the position.
Gets a bit sloppy with his vertical passes down the field. Does a nice job looking off defenders but seems to fall off bucket throws, dropping his elbow in the process.
I wasn't overly impressed with his touch down the field at this stage. Also, needs to do a better job taking some velocity off throws underneath, at times puts a little too much on passes underneath when throwing in rhythm, causing a lot of dropped passes because his receivers can't adjust.
Throws very well on the move when he squares his shoulders, generates good velocity, and is accurate with the football. However, at times gets lazy and will throw off balance causing passes to sail.
Impression: With such limited experience at the QB position it's not a case of where this guy is right now, but where he can be in 2/3 years. I love the talent and the overall production from a guy who doesn't have much experience playing from under center, as he plays way beyond his years. A potential franchise quarterback in my mind."
Accuracy: Tannehill has actively worked on his accuracy. He still makes to many mistakes with the ball but that will come with his development in reading defenses. Tannehill is accurate on the move which makes him a danger because of the possibility to pull the ball down and make plays.
Athleticism: Before taking over at QB for Jerrod Johnson at A&M he played wide receiver. He has the ability to scramble and throw on the run. His athleticism is very similar to that of 2011 2nd rounder, Colin Kaepernick.
Intangibles: Tannehill is a the clear leader of the A&M team but still is learning the position. He makes some bad reads which allows for interceptions and will have to cut those down in the NFL. Tannehill has the football acumen and an added advantage of playing for Mike Sherman. He has only a year and a half of experience under center but has shown the ability to develop in a short period of time. His upside is through the roof once he can focus on being a quarterback as a profession.
Bottom Line: Playing under Mike Sherman will surely help Tannehill’s development as an NFL quarterback. His lack of playing experience is a concern. Tannehill’s upside will be sure to intrigue an NFL team in the late portion of round one or early round-two.
Draft Projection: Tannehill is an early day two prospect with a ton of upside. Given the lack of quality behind Luck and Griffin, Tannehill could easily slide into round one."
Must continue honing his footwork and passing instincts. However, internal clock improved down the stretch, he can extend plays with his feet and is loaded with upside to be groomed.
Excels reading high-to-low on bootleg crossers and has good arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows. Touch, timing and anticipation still require refinement and should continue to improve with experience.
Is a very smart, mature, focused team player. Physically possesses all the tools to ascend as a senior. A strong supporting cast and pro-style coaching should accelerate his learning curve."
Arm Strength: Again not elite, but he has enough of an arm to make all the throws he'll be asked to make in the NFL. Can allow deep throws to hang in the air, which forces the receiver to slow down to come back for the ball. He can zip a ball in there on short to intermediate routes when he needs to, but knows how to take something off.
Decision Making: Like a lot of athletic quarterbacks, Tannehill will need to work on making the decision to throw the ball away. He can fall into the trap of trusting his legs too much to extend the play, but he needs to know that pressure is coming. When that internal clock goes off, he has to make a decision to tuck it and run, or throw it away. Can also trust his pre-snap read too much, meaning he can lock on to a single target rather than checking through his progressions. But these are things that come with experience of playing the quarterback position.
Field Vision: As I said in the decision making section, he does have a bad habit of locking on to one target and waiting for him to get open. But in general he does a good job of checking through his progressions. Unlike a lot of college guys, Tannehill does have multiple reads per play that he can make.
Mechanics: Generally sound, however he can lose his release point on occasion, meaning the ball can come out at different angles. However, I'd put this down again to inexperience and lack of repetitions at the quarterback position. I do like that he is able to adjust his release point though. In the NFL you don't always have the chance to use perfect mechanics. Sometimes you have to throw off-balance or slightly more side-armed, and Tannehill can do that. He has a quick and fairly efficient release, but like all quarterbacks, can use with some fine-tuning. Takes snaps from under center, his overall footwork when dropping back is fine.
Pocket Awareness: Despite his athletic ability and history as a former wide receiver, Tannehill is a pass first quarterback. He shows a willingness to step up in the pocket to avoid a pass rush. He senses pressure well and knows when to leave the pocket. As I mentioned earlier, his problem arises when he trusts his legs too much. Makes pre-snap reads and gets a solid idea where the pressure is coming from.
Final Word: His lack of experience playing the quarterback in college makes him more of a raw prospect than most. That being said, I believe he's further along than most people believe. I'm not saying he'll necessarily be a day one starter, but I'd expect him to be challenging for the starting spot by mid-season of his rookie year (depending on who he's drafted by).
One of the best ways for me to describe him is; there's not a lot of things Tannehill can't do. He should excel in a west coast offense that includes short and intermediate timing routes when dropping back from under center; and a lot of play-action passes that involve roll-outs and bootlegs which get Tannehill on the move and make the most of his athleticism. He has a natural ability to extend the play, which not many other quarterbacks have coming out of college.
If you can pair him up with a head coach that knows how to develop quarterbacks, an Andy Reid or a Mike Shanahan for example, I believe he could be a top 15 quarterback in the NFL."
Has good size with the frame to add another 10-15 pounds; also possesses decent arm strength and can make all the throws at the next level, including the deep out; very accurate passer consistently puts the ball on the numbers; can also fit the ball into tight coverage; has a compact throwing motion with a quick release; also throws well on the run; very athletic QB with the ability to run out of trouble in the pocket;
Did play some QB in high school but is still very experienced and has to prove that he can reads defenses and consistently make good decisions in the pocket; great character player with all the intangibles; is also an outstanding student who is a biology major who plans on attending medical school and becoming an orthopedic surgeon when he playing days are done."
Is comfortable and has extensive experience working under center... Played under former NFL head coach Mike Sherman... Has a strong arm, gets great zip on his deep out... Very high upside, has all the athletic ability and tools that teams covet... Will rise in post-season workouts due to his athleticism, arm strength, and overall physical tools...
Intelligent and a good leader, a high intangibles guy who will impress in interviews... Gets great rotation on his throws, throws a very nice, tight spiral.
Negatives -- Has some accuracy issues, makes his receivers adjust to the ball too frequently... A bit on the skinny side, could benefit bulking up 10-15 pounds... Doesn't have a ton of experience, has only a year and a half of quarterback experience... Will try to force throws that he shouldn't, trusts his arm too much...
Struggled towards the end of 2011, threw eight interceptions in his final five games, and Texas A&M ended the year losing four of their last five... Some of his interceptions came at crucial moments in games... Will need time to develop, is not ready to step in and start at the NFL level, will take a year or two of coaching to be ready...
More of a good prospect with great potential at this point than finished product... Inconsistent production, had some huge games and some very bad ones... Appears similar to Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert, who has had a rough transition to the NFL.
Scouts can see the potential given his height, quick release and solid accuracy on short to intermediate, but his arm strength is lacking. On deep balls, there just isn't much accuracy and he seems to be aiming or guiding his long throws, rather than just letting it rip.
His stock is on the rise since he is leading the Texas A&M Aggies to plenty of wins, but when the tape comes on, reality sets in. You've got an inexperienced quarterback with a ton of potential who will need patience and coaching in order to be a full-fledged NFL quarterback."