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Personnel evaluators, ex-quarterbacks assess Tannehill; Heat, Canes, Marlins chatter

FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Ryan Tannehill’s first four days of camp have looked much like his first season – some good (including a few throws that were perfectly lofted over defenders) and some not-so-good (not seeing some open receivers, an interception that Chris Clemons returned for a touchdown).

But none of this should be overstated, and the people who have seen Tannehill all offseason – including Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman – insist he’s a better player, especially in deciphering defenses.

So what will Tannehill ultimately become? This offseason, we asked a panel of longtime personnel executives and respected quarterbacks-turned-analysts. Their reaction varied widely, from very good, to solid, to not a long-term solution.

### Among the most effusive: longtime general managers Bill Polian and Charley Casserly.

“He’s going to be a very good quarterback,” Polian said. “You don’t just want a game manager. He’s not. He can win for you. And as he gets better people around him, all his numbers will go up.” He has gotten those better people now, starting with Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller.

Said Casserly: “I would feel really encouraged if I were Miami. If he was coming out in this year’s draft, you would have been talking about Tannehill with Kansas City with the No. 1 pick. I saw a lot of positives: athleticism, the ability to read a defense. At times, he can be inaccurate, but he’s not an inaccurate passer.”

### With Wallace on board, Joe Theismann says he could see him becoming something similar to Andy Dalton. That wouldn’t be enough to satisfy the Dolphins. Dalton was 13th in passer rating to Tannehill’s 27th.

### On his ongoing ESPN series, Ron Jaworski ranked Tannehill 24th among all starters. “I expect to see significant improvement with a better supporting cast in 2013,” Jaws said. “For a rookie, Tannehill was very good throwing with bodies around him in what I call a muddied pocket.

“The area [where] Tannehill and the entire Dolphins offense must improve is third down. He had the worst rating among all starting quarterbacks, including 7 of his 13 interceptions. Some resulted from pressure, others from poor reads, others from ill-advised throws. Overall, he showed many positive traits. With more experience and better weapons, I would expect Tannehill to have a big year and move substantially up my big board.”

### CBS analyst Rich Gannon, a former NFL MVP, said with the talent around him, “now you will see who Tannehill is. Wallace will put the fear of God in safeties.”

Gannon believes Tannehill “can be a pretty solid player” because of his intelligence (“you don’t see him get surprised by a lot of blitzes”), arm and mobility.

But… “The completion percentage has to go up from 58.3 to 64 or 65,” Gannon said. Robert Griffin was 65.6, Russell Wilson 64.1.

And Gannon wants the Dolphins to have Tannehill throw more on the move and use bootlegs: “You want to see him move to his left, not just his right. The good ones can do it either way.”

### Others were more measured. “What I saw was intriguing,” CBS’ Phil Simms said. “He has a presence. But I’m not going to rank him in the top 20 quarterbacks. What can he do for people around him [to make them better]? I can’t say it’s not going to work or that you’ve got a big-time star, either.”

### Before leaving NFL Network for the Cleveland Browns, Mike Lombardi told us he was “somewhat encouraged” about Tannehill but not entirely convinced: “When he gets a better supporting cast, we can make a better determination.”

### And former Raiders/Packers/Falcons executive Ken Herock was skeptical, saying: “Tannehill should be one of those starters for five, six years that won’t really get you better than 9-7. I don’t think he will carry a team.

“I don’t see the consistency. I don’t see him in the same class as [Andrew] Luck, Griffin and Wilson. You say, ‘He’s just OK.’”

CHATTER

### As many of you know, Bryant McKinnie would be the Dolphins' left tackle if he had accepted an offer from Miami instead of a comparable one from Baltimore. So this development today was noteworthy: McKinnie, a former UM standout, is being held out of Ravens practice because the team says he is too heavy. "I'm not sure who's more disappointed --- Bryant or I," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

### The Heat is among teams that has shown some interest in free agent point guard Mo Williams. And Williams is said to have interest in Miami if he doesn’t get an offer higher than the minimum.

### Some Heat officials oppose offering Greg Oden anything more than the minimum because of his history of knee problems, though some teams could offer more. The question is whether Pat Riley can be persuaded by Oden’s camp, in the next several days, to dip into his $3.2 million mid-level exception.

### The Heat will get two early looks at arguably the most improved team in the Eastern Conference. The Nets announced Thursday that they will play two preseason games against the Heat: Oct. 17 in Brooklyn and Oct. 25 in Miami. The Heat has not announced the remainder of its preseason schedule, but it was previously disclosed that Miami will play Charlotte Oct. 11 in Kansas City.

### Whereas the Marlins’ Logan Morrison and Dolphins’ Richie Incognito serve up the most creative tweets among South Florida athletes, UM offensive coordinator James Coley has that distinction among local coaches.

Among those from Coley this summer: “It’s our U-niverse!!! Get U-se to it!!!!”

And “We are what you feared!!! Take cover from the STORM – you have been warned!!!”

He welcomed a new recruit this week with “#I Pledge Allegiance to the Swagg!”

Coley, by the way, likes to show his quarterbacks film of the Patriots offense, as his predecessor, Jedd Fisch did. “I have Tom Brady on all the time; guys think I have a man crush on the guy,” Coley told us.

“Everything from [calls at the line] to watching his technique when he throws the ball; he’s very sound with what he does. He does subtle things that affect defenses -- how early he puts his hand under the center, how he fake kicks in the shotgun to watch the safeties.”

Coley hopes studying Brady's nuances can help Stephen Morris and the other quarterbacks.

### Brooklyn four-star defensive tackle Cory Johnson picked Kentucky over Miami. But St. Thomas Aquinas' coach said Class of 2014 four-star defensive tackle Anthony Moten is considering UM after de-committing from Florida. 

### Not only is Giancarlo Stanton’s average (.240) third-worst among all National League starting right fielders, but his home runs per at-bat have dipped to one every 19.4, down from 14.2 entering this season. The Marlins initially thought he could get $8 million in arbitration this winter, but that seems a stretch now. The Marlins keep rejecting the Texas Rangers’ repeated inquiries about Stanton.

### Couple quick broadcast notes: WMEN-640 general manager Steve Lapa said he still hasn't decided whether to hire former WQAM host and ex-UM defensive lineman Dan Sileo full-time but will extend his on-air audition for a fourth week, from 10 a.m. to noon next Monday through Friday. That's a time period Sileo could fill full-time if he gets a permanent gig.... Fox, which is launching an all-sports cable channel Aug. 17, hired Gary Payton, Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick and former NFL lineman Ephraim Salaam to be nightly panelists on a highlights/roundtable discussion show that will air at 11 p.m., opposite SportsCenter on ESPN and Keith Olbermann's ESPN2 show, which debuts Aug. 26.

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