Around the NFL  

 

Collateral benefits: Veteran players boosted by draft

Print

Ryan Tannehill has produced muddled results in his four pro seasons. Much like the Miami Dolphins franchise he plays for, Tannehill can look promising or depressing depending on how you frame things.

There is a stagnant air to Tannehill these days, yet he is only a year removed from a healthy contract extension. He has thrown for 51 touchdowns with only 24 interceptions the last two seasons, but few people are fully convinced he's The Guy to get the Dolphins out of their post-Dan Marino rut.

This is an organization that has won six to eight games for seven straight years. In a topsy-turvy league, the consistency of Miami's mediocrity is hard to accomplish. Tannehill has reason to be unhappy with all the change around him. He's joining his third offensive system in five years. Tannehill felt that his last coach didn't truly believe in him, with good reason.

Tannehill has no reason to complain heading into 2016. The Dolphins hired a head coach known for working with quarterbacks. He's expected to have more responsibility at the line of scrimmage. And the NFL draft only bolstered Tannehill's strong offseason.

Laremy Tunsil's draft day nightmare was a dream for Tannehill; Miami picked up perhaps the draft's best lineman at No. 13 overall. It almost doesn't matter where Tunsil fits on the team's line. It will be a good problem if Branden Albert and Ja'Wuan James push Tunsil to guard. Dolphins head honcho Mike Tannenbaum also added running back Kenyan Drake and receiver Leonte Carroo in the third round before a few late-round, pass catching fliers.

The Dolphins haven't just supported Tannehill with meaningless public statements. They are doing it with action. They are trying to give him every chance to succeed, and it's up to Tannehill to make good on all that faith.

Tannehill was one of the veteran winners on draft weekend. Nine more players who enjoyed collateral benefits are below. 20 players who suffered collateral damage are right here.

1. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins running back: If he stays healthy, Ajayi's combination of power, aggression and passing-down acumen make him a high-ceiling fantasy pick. He got lucky this offseason when the Dolphins failed in multiple attempts to sign a veteran running back. Drake is a change-of-pace type who figures to slide behind Ajayi on the depth chart.

2. Andrew Luck, Colts quarterback: General manager Ryan Grigson made a strong statement during the draft by taking four offensive linemen, including center Ryan Kelly. That statement:

"I'm sorry for what I've done to you Andrew Luck. And to Hasselbeck, too. You didn't deserve this."

That's the good news. The bad news is Luck might have to put up 30 points per game like he did in 2014 to make up for a Colts defense sorely lacking plus players on its front seven.

3. Tony Romo, Cowboys quarterback: Ezekiel Elliott should keep the Cowboys balanced by limiting Romo's pass attempts. Romo also caught a break when the Cowboys failed in a bid to trade up for Paxton Lynch. That's about 4,000 awkward questions he won't have to answer over the next year with only Kellen Moore and fourth-round pick Dak Prescott behind him on the depth chart.

4. Arik Armstead, 49ers defensive end: Armstead struggled to get on the field early in his rookie year after missing the offseason program because of the NFL's bizarre rules on college graduation. By the end of the season, Armstead started to show some real pass rush potential.

Leave it to coach Chip Kelly to reunite the Oregon product with his old teammate, DeForest Buckner. Armstead should only benefit from playing with his more-talented teammate, who will attract attention on the 49ers' defensive line.

5. Brock Osweiler, Texans quarterback: Houston general manager Rick Smith and coach Bill O'Brien know their tenures in Houston will be judged largely on Osweiler's success. So they are doing everything they can to build him up, taking receivers in the first and third rounds -- Will Fuller and Braxton Miller. A center in the second round (Nick Martin) and a running back in the fourth (Tyler Ervin) kept up the offensive theme. Somewhere, Brian Hoyer is grumbling.

6. Robert Griffin III, Browns quarterback: Play out this offseason 10 different times, and I'm not sure RGIII ends up as the favorite to start for an NFL team more than once. But this is the reality in Cleveland, where Griffin figures to have the upper hand against Josh McCown and Cody Kessler.

7. Quinton Patton, 49ers wide receiver: After ignoring wide receivers in the draft, Patton looks like a starter under Kelly. That's concerning for the 49ers, but it's great news for Patton.

8. Russell Wilson, Seahawks quarterback: General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll always evaluate draft prospects a little differently, so we aren't going to criticize their unsurprisingly out-of-left-field draft. This much is unquestionable: The Seahawks spent four of their first five picks to help Wilson. They could have landed two offensive line starters and two solid role players in tight end Nick Vannett and running back C.J. Prosise.

9. Mark Sanchez, Broncos quarterback: Sure, John Elway drafted Denver's quarterback of the future. But Lynch could have a steep learning curve coming out of Memphis and Sanchez doesn't have to beat out a veteran like Colin Kaepernick. Sanchez has a great chance to be the Week 1 starting quarterback for the defending Super Bowl champions. This has been a year of "This can't really be happening, can it?" moments in this country. Sanchez is happening.

Print

Fan Discussion