How high is Ryan Tannehill's ceiling?

May, 15, 2013
5/15/13
2:20
PM ET

 
Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said this week that his new quarterback -- Ryan Tannehill -- can be just as good as his old quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger.

That is a lofty comparison of a second-year player to a two-time Super Bowl champion. But if anyone would know, it’s Wallace. He spent four years with Roethlisberger and worked out with Tannehill extensively this offseason.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY SportsNew Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace appears sold on the ability of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
"Ryan can really fling it," Wallace said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I think from a deep ball perspective Ryan may be able to throw the ball a little bit farther than Ben. Obviously, Ben is more experienced in a game-time situation, but the way it's going it won't take long for him to be one of the great quarterbacks at all."

Wallace’s comments takes me back to a recent conversation I had with an NFL scout on Tannehill’s ceiling. You can read the full scouting report here on the AFC East youth movement involving Tannehill, New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith and EJ Manuel of the Buffalo Bills. The one thing that stood out most is the scout’s projection that Tannehill could be a “top-15 quarterback.”

“Making the throws isn’t an issue for him. The major thing is improving the accuracy, and I think he will going forward,” the scout said. “I think he can be a top-15 quarterback, I would say. But how much time is he willing to put into learning defenses and knowing what he sees when he gets under center? It’s all about work ethic at this point in his second season. With all that said, Tannehill can definitely be successful, no question. With Miami adding all these pieces, I don’t see anything stopping him from being successful except himself.”

A top-15 quarterback is good but not great. If Tannehill can eventually climb into the top 10 -- which is where Roethlisberger is -- then Miami could be a perennial playoff contender.

Tannehill has all the tools. But as the scout mentioned, it’s going to come down to his ability to study defenses and make better decisions. Tannehill had more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12) as a rookie last season.

The addition of Wallace will certainly help Tannehill. The Tannehill-to-Wallace combination should make Miami’s offense much more dangerous and dynamic. Tannehill proved last year that he can make all the throws needed to be a successful NFL quarterback. Wallace is arguably the best deep threat in the NFL and one of the fastest players in the league.

Wallace added that Tannehill’s arm is stronger than Roethlisberger's. That could equal plenty of big plays this season in Miami.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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