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Russ Lande: Tannehill has strongest arm in 2012 draft

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl - Texas A&M v Northwestern

HOUSTON - DECEMBER 31: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of Texas A&M Texas A&M Aggies displays his MVP trophy after Texas A&M defeated Northwesten University 33-22 at Reliant Stadium on December 31, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick isn’t high on former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill as a 2012 draft prospect, but league evaluators certainly seem to be. Tannehill is widely regarded as a surefire top-12 pick.

Russ Lande of Sporting News isn’t in the league anymore, but he has experience as an NFL scout. Now a leading “draftnik,” Lande rates Tannehill with the strongest arm among quarterbacks in the 2012 draft class.

“Tannehill has risen up draft boards so fast because he reminds many of a more consistent Jay Cutler,” Lande wrote in a piece ranking and analyzing this year’s draft-eligible quarterbacks. “The ball explodes out of Tannehill’s hand and gets to the receiver before defenders can make a play.”

Tannehill is suddenly the most polarizing player in the draft. Thursday’s episode of NFL Live on ESPN opened with a Todd McShay-Mel Kiper back-and-forth argument debating Tannehill’s draft-day value, as well as his outlook as an NFL player.

McShay is much higher on Tannehill than Kiper. Appearing on ESPN radio Thursday, McShay opined that Tannehill’s physical talent is superior to currently projected 2013 No. 1 overall pick Matt Barkley.

“I think [Tannehill] has greater upside, physically,” McShay said. “I just look at the two. Tannehill has a better arm, more mobile. I think he has better tools [than Barkley] if he can get there.”