The Indianapolis Colts are already locked and loaded to select their quarterback of the future in Andrew Luck, but Colts team owner Jim Irsay and former general manager Bill Polian are both spouting big opinions that could help the Minnesota Vikings two picks later.
Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is no Luck, but as the 2011 NFL Draft proved with four quarterbacks selected in the first 12 picks, value at that position increases as the draft draws near. Two teams in the top 10 picks are being told by Irsay and Polian to seriously consider moving up to draft Tannehill No. 3 overall, a move that would secure the Vikings at least one additional mid- to early-round pick, which would be the ideal scenario for Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who is making no secret of his desire to add to the 10 draft picks he already has during the April 26-28 selection weekend.
"Tannehill is a hidden gem in this draft, a quiet secret who was always sneaking up to #3…you want him, you better talk to Zigi The Biggie!" Irsay, the Colts owner, tweeted Wednesday morning, referring to Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
So what would it take for either the Cleveland Browns, sitting just one spot behind the Vikings at No. 4, or Miami Dolphins, also in need of a quarterback and possessing the No. 8 pick, to move up and ensure they can get Tannehill?
According to the NFL Draft Value Chart, which has as much relevance as ever with the collective bargaining agreement making top draft choices more affordable once again, the Browns would have to add 400 "points" in draft value to move up from No. 4 to 3. That could mean something in the neighborhood of Cleveland's second-round choice with the Vikings returning their original fourth-rounder to make it work, or it could equal something like Cleveland's third-round pick this year and another third-round pick in 2013 (Spielman believes a future pick is escalated in value by one round to make up for the delay). But, with no risk to the Vikings of losing Kalil (the Browns already have Joe Thomas), the Vikings could settle for one third-round pick and still get their target at a position of need.
Any of those scenarios would be beneficial for the Vikings, because it would allow them to still draft the player of their choice – likely USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil – and gain additional picks for a general manager that craves them.
So why would the Browns do that, knowing the Vikings aren't in the market for a high-round quarterback after selecting Christian Ponder No. 12 overall last year? Simply to have another team – like the Miami Dolphins – from trading ahead of them with the Vikings and taking Tannehill. That was precisely the thinking for Polian in a column he penned for ESPN.com
"In order to assure themselves of selecting Tannehill, the Dolphins would need to move up to the No. 3 pick in a trade with the Vikings," Polian wrote.
"In my mind, this is a trade you must make if you're the Dolphins. There is no reason to gamble and hope that he falls to No. 8. With the new CBA, Tannehill's position as a QB and his contract wouldn't be an impediment to moving up to No. 3 to select him. And even if the Browns do pass on Tannehill at No. 4, there's no guarantee a team like Kansas City won't trade up to take him."
The Jacksonville Jaguars made a similar move last year when they traded up six spots to No. 10 to draft Blaine Gabbert two spots in front of the Vikings.
Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden, now an analyst for ESPN, also espoused the talents of Tannehill, pointing to his athleticism as a former starting wide receiver for the Aggies.
"He's an outstanding athlete, and he's also been tutored by an NFL coach in Mike Sherman. So when you do watch Tannehill, every time you watch him you're seeing an outstanding young man who's been tutored by an excellent offensive coach in an outstanding system. That I like. So the arrow is going up on Tannehill," Gruden said in a conference call discussing draft picks.
So, what does the value chart say it would take for the Dolphins to move up five spots, from No. 8 to No. 3? They would need to give up the equivalent of 800 points in draft value. That would mean roughly their second-round pick this year and a second-round pick next year if there wasn't a current player thrown into the mix.
It's all very speculative at this point – trade talks don't usually get serious until the week before the draft – but it's interesting that Irsay and Polian, two of the people that have dealt with one of the best quarterbacks in the league over the last decade, Peyton Manning, believe Tannehill is a player worth the trade.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
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