DENVER, CO -- Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill is among the best quarterback prospects in this year's NFL draft, the kind of big athlete that league personnel executives, including the Broncos' John Elway, have said they see at the position as pro football moves into the future.
He is, as former Carolina Panthers quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke calls him, "the total package."
That's because Tannehill, a 6-foot-4, 222-pounder, will be the only top quarterback in the draft who has thrown for at least 3,700 yards in one college season and caught at least 50 passes in another.
"I mean, the guy has played receiver in a big-time program, and he's a quarterback who has already proved he has NFL arm strength," said Weinke, who is working with Tannehill, Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins leading up to the April draft. "That's a great, great athlete, right there. He didn't just line up at either position, he changed games at both."
"I have experience at wide receiver, but I've never thought of myself as anything other than a quarterback," Tannehill said. "I played wide receiver, but I thought of myself as a quarterback who was playing wide receiver at that time. Once I get all the way past the injury, I'm excited about where my career can go."
Ah, the injury. The former Texas A&M quarterback did not make a scheduled trip to the Senior Bowl last month because he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot — his plant foot when he throws — during training.
Tannehill had the foot repaired in Charlotte, N.C., last month by noted orthopedist Dr. Robert Anderson. Tannehill said he was allowed to remove the walking boot he was using last weekend and has resumed throwing.
"I'm walking around, I feel good about it, not much pain, I do a little more every day," Tannehill said. "I think I'm ahead in the recovery time, going as hard as I can, pushing as hard as I can, but at the same time I want to be smart and not set myself back."
Tannehill will attend the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next week but does not plan to work out. He will be examined by each team's medical staff, however, and will participate in a full slate's worth of interviews to meet team executives as well as coaches.
A pre-med student who had aspirations to be an orthopedic surgeon before football intervened, Tannehill said he's ready for head coaches and offensive coordinators who want to test him on his football IQ. He expects to be able to throw fully by his pro day at the end of March.
"I should be 100 percent here in the next few weeks. There should be no hesitation," Tannehill said. "I should be able to get a lot of work in during the few weeks leading up to the pro day. Right now, we're looking at the 27th, 28th or 29th of March."
"He's limited, but he's out of his boot and progressing," Weinke said. "What I did when he was in the boot was we met every day, worked in the classroom, watched video and that will continue. He's throwing now, he's not full speed, he's not taking full drops, but he looks great throwing the ball."
Tannehill knows he will have to answer for his experience behind center — he was A&M's starting quarterback for just under two seasons after being a wide receiver for most of the first 30 games of his career — having started only his last 19 games at quarterback.
Thirteen of those starts came this past season when he threw for 3,744 yards and 29 touchdowns.
"I think my ceiling is still really, really high," Tannehill said. "I know I can get a lot, lot better. I'm excited about the future.
"I think if you're able to get outside the pocket to escape pressure, play with athleticism to escape the rush — maybe that's what teams are looking for. That's definitely part of my game, to make some plays, but you want to be able to be proficient in the pocket as well."
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