Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Jan 2009

Tebow Returns, FO Reacts

Florida Gators quarterback (and Thom Brenneman man-crush) Tim Tebow announced his intention to return for his senior season during the Gators’ national championship celebration on Sunday. As he was leaving the podium, Tebow did a double-take, went back to the mike, and said, "Oh, by the way, let's do it again. I'm coming back."

This seems like a good opportunity to put up the Tebow discussion among several FO staffers that took place during the BCS Championship Game. The mini-Audibles below:

Aaron Schatz: Curious what some of you think of the quarterbacks so far. Bradford looks pretty good to me. Tebow had a couple nice throws, but that first interception was one of the laziest throws I've ever seen -- I'm fast enough to step in front of that one.

Bill Connelly: In all, Tebow looks confused when he passes it, but he still did a good job of selling the run on that touchdown pass.

Tim Gerheim: Tebow seems to be having a hard time reading the defense. I noticed that on a couple passes in a row before the Florida touchdown, and then on the second Florida interception. When Oklahoma varies its pass rush scheme, Tebow doesn't seem to adjust to it very readily at all.

Doug Farrar: I think Bradford has the tools to be accurate downfield at the next level in a way that a lot of people don't. However, those Florida DBs are some hittin' fools. Nice matchup there. I was talking to Rob Rang of NFLDRaftScout.com last night, and he rates the Oklahoma offensive line as highly as any NCAA line he's ever seen.

Benjy Rose: Tebow looks lost; can't read the defenses. Has anyone else noticed that the OU receivers are really tentative after catching the ball, not going for any yards after catch? They appear to be content playing Ultimate Frisbee offense.

Bill Connelly: Bradford will have a learning curve if he comes out this year because he has no idea how to handle pressure--he hasn't faced it very much because that offensive line is an absolute fortress.

Aaron Schatz: Oh no, not Joey Harrington disease! That's not good.

Bill Connelly: Heh, well...he may end up handling it just fine. It'll just be a learning curve. If he comes back to OU next year, he'll be dealing with five new O-line starters, meaning a) he'll learn how to run for his life, and b) his stock will fall.

Vince Verhei: I thought Bradford threw some great passes tonight, deep balls with a very small window that hit his guys right in the hands (and were usually then dislodged by Florida defenders). Then the ESPN guys talked about how he had an off game.

Tebow fascinates me, and I think he's going back for his senior year, but I can't wait to see what an NFL team does with him. As a runner, I thought his speed was meh, but his balance and power were obviously impressive. As a passer, his arm strength was nothing special, and his release takes FOREVER, but his accuracy, even on the run, looked pretty good. (I missed the first half, so can't speak to that.) He'll probably be a fullback in the NFL, but I'd love to see somebody use him as a power tailback, giving him 10 to 15 carries a game between the tackles, with the threat of the halfback option always present.

Doug Farrar: I was thinking "Riggins." John or Tim.

Ben Riley: I'm a little surprised that Bradford's getting so much love in this discussion (at least early on). Maybe I don't follow college football closely enough -- in fact, I know I don't -- but color me skeptical about a quarterback who heavily relies on hand signals from the sideline that in turn are radioed in from the offensive coordinator's booth upstairs. Not questioning his raw abilities, and I realize he's very young -- it's just that he looked more like a "system quarterback" than I expected.

Meanwhile, Tim Tebow continues to be the most baffling prospect since, um... I can't think of anyone more baffling. Is he a stocky Doug Flutie? Matt Jones, except with all the intangibles? A first rounder? A third rounder? Is he even coming out this year? If he doesn't, and Florida repeats and/or he wins the Heisman, is he the greatest college player of all time? Is he already? Should I slow down with the drinks when watching the BCS Championship game so I stop asking endless questions? So many questions, so many greyhounds...

Doug Farrar: At Bradford’s age, I think the point is to look more for transferable skills. How accurate is he deep? Does he look like his best throws are repeatable? Can he stick a throw in a small window? How does he handle pressure? As Bill mentioned, he hasn’t really seen pressure yet. At Tebow’s level of development, if he doesn’t have some real NFL quarterback skills, the clock’s running down.

Bill Barnwell: Well, I mean, all depends. If he's a stud player, no one will bother him. If not, he's Jerry Spradlin.

Mike Tanier: I don’t see a legit NFL quarterback in Tebow. Maybe he's a package guy who runs the Wildcat for 2 years while coaches see if he can develop as a passer: 4th-6th round guy.

There are a lot of highly religious guys in the NFL, but there are guys so overboard that they polarize the locker room. Tebow sounds like the latter ... heck, Reggie White didn't make this many Hosannas when he was a young guy. If he starts sounding like Robert Duvall as Frank Burns when interviewing with teams, they may downgrade him from "moral and committed" to "flaky".

Russell Levine: I agree with much of what has been said here. Bradford's accuracy is very impressive, but he mostly got all day to throw. I wouldn't be overly concerned about the whole "look over at the sidelines" thing -- that's pretty much SOP for many college no-huddle spreads. And since these goes don't have the coach yakking in their helmet, I don't see it as any kind of detriment.

Tebow, on the other hand, is more of a mystery than ever. It was pretty obvious in this game that he either doesn't know how, or more likely has not had to, read a defense and go through a progression. He certainly will have a lot to learn to play QB in the NFL. He is an incredibly powerful runner. Every team Florida faces knows what's coming, yet can't stop him in short yardage. He also routinely shakes off defensive linemen to avoid sacks.

I think that he will be insistent about playing QB in the pros -- and that some team will let him do it. I think he has enough arm strength and is accurate, and he could scramble plenty while he figures it out. Is he really THAT different from guys like McNabb, Vick, and Young that had obvious holes in their NFL games but were given a chance after being taken very high in the draft?

I also don't think the religion thing will be a problem for him. He seems plenty humble and has no problem being the absolute leader of a 100+ man team on which he's probably pretty different than most. He was quiet as a mouse as a freshman when he came in as a much heralded recruit and made meaningful contributions on a national title team without making waves. He obviously has some leadership qualities that ought to appeal to plenty of NFL execs. And NFL locker rooms are full of super-pious guys that are always talking about Jesus. Kurt Warner, anyone?

Sean McCormick: Bradford reminds me of Philip Rivers in terms of his size, his style and his accuracy. Of course, what made Rivers an attractive prospect was that he started every game of his college career and was thus as battle tested as they come, and even then he ended up riding the pine in the NFL for several seasons. Bradford has good skills, but hardly dominant ones, and he's going to need a lot of time to get bigger and stronger. He would make a terrific second or third round pick who you could stash away on your roster and develop quietly for a few years, but that's not what's going to happen with him.

I suppose Vince Young is the closest equivalent to Tebow, but Young was faster and more agile in the open field. More importantly, he had a much quicker release. I wasn't in love with Young as a pro prospect, but the speed of his release made me think he at least had a chance to function as a quarterback in the NFL. I have a much harder time seeing Tebow's game make the transition. He's truly a pro prospect without a position... maybe fullback, maybe H-back. He's too slow to even be a package player. He's just a weird, weird prospect.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 11 Jan 2009

58 comments, Last at 14 Jan 2009, 5:18pm by Kibbles

Comments

1
by DJ Any Reason (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 9:33pm

If I had to guess why Tebow is talked about and treated differently than McNabb, Young, and Vick, I'd say it probably has to do with the fact that Tebow is a gritty possession receiver with deceptive speed.

I keep hearing people suggest Tebow as a FB or TE... does anybody know if the kid can actually block? That's kinda, you know, *important* for those positions...

4
by Doug Farrar :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 10:27pm

He will fix his steely gaze upon the defenders, and the defenders will fall before Him.

/Brenneman'd

9
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 11:23pm

I'm admittedly partisan here, but one of those is not like the others.

McNabb actually was a very good passer out of traditional sets by his senior year at Syracuse; the late 1990s Orange ran the option as a change-up, but it wasn't their base offense.

Young and Tebow have Heisman Trophies, and McNabb doesn't, because standards changed, not because they played better than he did.

--
My new CuseFanInSoCal blog

24
by Marko :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 1:51pm

Young doesn't have a Heisman Trophy.

15
by LI Matt (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 9:30am

I wonder if Tebow has the hands to play TE.

2
by thewedge :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 9:38pm

Although my recollections are hazy, I remember McNabb and Vick being far better at throwing the ball than Tebow. Plus, Vick was definitely a better runner (I'm a little hazier on McNabb).

Again with a declaimer that I'm not exactly an expert on player evaluation, but Tebow's throws look awful, he doesn't look even close to NFL ready. I could be wrong though. Still, I can guarantee that some particularly inept team takes Tebow far too high in the draft (see: Young, Vince Russel, JaMarcus).

12
by td (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:06am

Just think where those Titans would be without such an inept front office

3
by The Blow Leprechaun (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 9:53pm

"At Bradford’s age, I think the point is to look more for transferable skills. How accurate is he deep? Does he look like his best throws are repeatable? Can he stick a throw in a small window? How does he handle pressure? As Bill mentioned, he hasn’t really seen pressure yet. At Tebow’s level of development, if he doesn’t have some real NFL quarterback skills, the clock’s running down."

Bradford's a redshirt sophomore, Tebow's a true junior. They've both had the same amount of time on a college team. One's played more, sure, but I'd imagine that Bradford was learning something without starting, too.

5
by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 10:46pm

Tebow averaged less than 9 combined pass & rush attempts in 2006, and I rarely remember him handing off (that wasn't the point of having him in, after all); without poring over the play-by-play, I'd guess Brantley got something like that many snaps this year. Certainly Tebow was placed in much higher leverage situations, but I agree - I wouldn't say that his freshman experience puts him that much ahead of Bradford in terms of 'levels of development' (Tebow of course has many more career carries, but Bradford has actually attempted about 20% more passes. Because Bradford looks like he's about 15, it's easy to forget he's less than three months younger.)

6
by azibuck (not verified) :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 10:56pm

After next season, Tebow will have close to 40 starts with a completion percentage north of 65 percent. Doesn't that indicate he'll be a successful pro? I think his ability, and willingness to run make some people just think he can't really be a good QB. Intangibles, and some tangibles like release, are just nitpicking. He'll be drafted and groomed as a QB, probably by a successful team. Bradford reminds me of Pennington who loses his mechanics under pressure.

7
by thewedge :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 11:12pm

I don't know, I'm always wary of QBs who have glaring weaknesses that are explained away as things which can be cleaned up. It's what they said about Kyle Boller's accuracy problems, Vince Young's release, Lewtwich's speed of delivery, etc. If a guy hasn't gotten his mechanics down over 40 starts in college it seems unlikely that it's something that can be remedied. As always, I could be wrong.

8
by dsouten :: Sun, 01/11/2009 - 11:14pm

My understanding of the Lewin Projection is that it is limited to QBs selected in the 1st or 2nd round, meaning scouts and GMs have had the chance to determine they have skills transferrable to the NFL.

18
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:27am

Exactly right. There are more college quarterbacks with a lot of starts and a decent completion percentage than there are NFL stars-Colt Brennan and David Greene are two good examples of this.

35
by doktarr :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:28pm

azibuck -

The QB projection system only applies to first rounders. If Tebow is not a first round pick, then apparently his 40 starts and 2/3 completion percentage are not enough to compensate for things he appears to lack, like a quick release or an ability to read the defense.

10
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:16am

Tebow especially the NC Game, showed his biggest weakness - He can only make one throw, the rifle down center field. He doesn't throw to sidelines well, he doesn't throw corners well, he has no touch on his passes, and he struggles with reading D.

I really want to see Tebow become a pro QB, but I think he has to come back and prove he can do it. He proved he can be accurate this year, but he's going to need to prove that it wasn't a fluke or a result of the threat of his running ability. At the NFL level, his running ability won't be anything impressive.

He has a lot of work to do to allay a lot of scouts fears. If he can learn to read a D and throw with touch, he might have a shot, but the question still remains if he was capable of doing that, why hasn't he already and will he always just be a guy who depends on his size and being bigger than the guys tackling him.

11
by Yaguar :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:26am

My opinions on college prospects are usually more moderate than this. However, I have strong opinions on these two.

Tebow will be an awful NFL quarterback. Absolutely atrocious. I don't really have anything new to say about it. He's not accurate and he's not good at reading coverage.

Bradford will be just a hair short of Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler. He was brilliant as a freshman, which is a very good predictor of NFL performance at almost every position. He has absurd accuracy. He makes good reads, although he will need to learn to make them faster. Consider that the Sooners had just lost Adrian Peterson to the draft when Bradford started as a freshman. That offense didn't miss a beat.

13
by td (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:18am

I thought the comments regarding Bradford's comparative youth seemed off, so I'm glad to hear there's only a three month age gap. I've always thought Tebow has an ugly, ugly game, and that his acclaim has been a product of being what Bill James called an accumulator. The thing that gives him a chance is that he's a tank.

14
by D :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:37am

With regards to Tebow:
I think there are two words that no one has mentioned but a quite relevant to this discussion; Alex Smith. Like Tebow he played in Urban Meyer's version of the spread option and he has been a failure thus far in his pro career and Smith seemed like a more natural passer than Tebow. I'd like to see him succeed but I'm not sure he can. Maybe if he can convince Meyer to run a more pro-style offense next year he can change some minds.

With regards to Bradford:
It's worth remembering that he still has two years of eligibility left (though I doubt he will stay for both) and he is not done growing.

16
by azibuck (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:00am

Right on! Well, except for the 66 percent career accuracy that he's maintained since he first stepped on the field. Let me guess, it's all dumpoffs? He's on a great team? etc.

I'm not even saying he'll be great in the NFL, I just don't get what makes Tebow a lesser passing prospect than Vince Young, for starters. His arm is clearly stronger, and he's way more accurate. More accurate than McNabb. Better prospect than Jason Campbell, Jamarcus Russell, Drew Stanton, Tavaris Freaking Jackson. And on and on. Tebow and his shortcomings, perceived or real, should and will be drafted in the first two rounds, as a QB.

30
by Yaguar :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:57pm

Running quarterbacks get much, much larger windows to throw to than pocket passers. Tebow will not be able to scramble well in the NFL. He's going to have much smaller passing lanes, and he's simply not going to be able to do it.

37
by doktarr :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:33pm

Vince Young ran a more traditional offense in college, and is faster and a better open field runner. That said, he's a lousy NFL QB so he's not a good point of comparison.

Campbell and McNabb both ran more pro-style offenses as well. I don't really see them as close comparisons.

I never understood the appeal of Jamarcus Russell, but then again, neither did the projection system. That said, he plays in Oakland so he might still be better than we think. Stanton and Jackson weren't considered top prospects.

44
by azibuck (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 5:52pm

My point, again, isn't whether any of those guys were "top" prospects, or to compare their talent to Tebow's, but they were all drafted in the 1st or 2nd round, as QBs. So why wouldn't the same thing happen for Tebow?

McNabb did not run a pro style offense, regardless of what CusefaninSoCal says. I saw at least half the games he played at SU, some in person, and they ran the (awesome) freeze option most of the time, and McNabb completed only 60% of his passes as a senior.

17
by Jimmy :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:26am

I haven't had the chance to watch a lot of Tebow, but personally I really like what I see. I fully understand all the reservations about him as a pro prospect - Meyer's system, comparables with Young/Vick, there are probably a lot more as he is seriously over analysed - I am just not convinced they all apply.

I do think that playing in Meyer's system will have hurt his development, but comparing him to Alex Smith (ie Smith hasn't panned out, therefore Tebow won't pan out) is specious. The situation Smith was put in by the Niners was almost the ideal programme to ruin a young QB. His first two years they were possibly the least talented NFL teams I have ever seen, no WRs, no linemen, no defense, they then changed offensive coordinator every single year (seriously six years running), most of whom were incompetent. The one year the coaching was any good and the talent approached mediocrity Smith actually played quite well. If Tebow could throw the ball as well as that with his physical skill set he would be a very successful NFL QB.

I don't get the critiscisms of his throwing motion, it may not be the perfect over-the-top delivery, but it isn't as bad as some NFL starters (Philip Rivers looks to me like he is throwing custard pies clown style but that seems to work). He holds the ball high, sets his feet correctly and drives up through his back hip as he releases the ball. You might want to see his forearm ten degrees higher, but it would be more of an issue if he wasn't so strong. He seems to have enough power in reserve to get the ball out when he does try to throw without proper form. Besides which I think some of the blame for his poor mechanics should go on Meyer's shoulders as the play calling can hardly help him. The first pick he threw against OU is sort of what I am talking about, the throw to the right sideline is one of the hardest a QB has to make, having him in the shotgun faking pitches and handoffs before trying to wheel round and throw a sideline route all the way across the field is almost impossible. Furthermore between the college hashes being wider and there being no routes on the play to draw the safety away from the sideline it was really bad coaching by Meyer. Obviously the ball shouldn't have been thrown as it was an easy pick, but we have no idea what Tebow's reads were on the play. He might have run the play just as it was drawn up, but it was a truly crappy play.

I think there is a very good chance the Tebow is the second coming of Steve Young. People seem to forget how very raw Young was when he got to the Niners (despite having been a pro for several years). Maybe Tebow would need a Bill Walsh type guru to coach him properly (which might be hard to find), but I think he could be one of the best in the league.

The other impression I got watching the game is that Tebow had a receiver like Inglesias Florida's downfield passing game might look a lot more dynamic. I know Florida have some great players (Harvin especially) but I have no idea how highly their receivers are rated, and their line doesn't seem to be anywhere near the standard of the OU group.

19
by strannix (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:48am

Thoughtful comment.

You're probably right about the UF O-line but it's really hard to tell how good they are. They spend a lot of time running around in exotic blocking schemes, and very often they'll get lost or run into each other or something like that. To my eye, it appears that they're often running plays that weren't worked on enough during practice, so not everyone is quite on the same page. When they run more straightforward blocking schemes, they seem to do OK.

I've always thought that, as good as the offense is, it would be a lot better if the Gators were more disciplined (even basic things like lining up properly are frequently messed up). This probably starts at the top with Meyer, but it will be interesting to see what effect Mullen's departure has on the offense.

39
by doktarr :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:38pm

Funny line there about Philip Rivers. It's absolutely true that you don't need textbook form to be a good NFL QB.

As for the rest of your post - yes, it's certainly POSSIBLE that Tebow is being held back by the system, and/or that he will develop top pro QB skills to go with his great physical gifts. But we don't have any real evidence that that's the case, and that's what makes him a mediocre prospect at this point.

My personal hope is that he goes to the Seahawks and plays on the field with Seneca Wallace. On 75% of the snaps you could have Wallace under center and Tebow at fullback/H-back. On the other 25% of plays Tebow runs the "wildcat" (i.e. college spread) with Wallace as a servicable wide receiver (as oppose to a decoy like most NFL QBs). Hey, maybe it could work...

20
by Raffy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:19pm

Tebow can block. I picture him as a high 2nd round TE. Think Dallas Clark; but a more punishing YAR runner. In fact, Indy may be the best place for him; because he could learn to play QB while studying Manning while giving the front office a good ROI playing TE.

21
by Raffy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:20pm

Tebow can block. I picture him as a high 2nd round TE. Think Dallas Clark; but a more punishing YAR runner. In fact, Indy may be the best place for him; because he could learn to play QB while studying Manning while giving the front office a good ROI playing TE.

22
by Chip :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 12:39pm

Tebow's Speed Score

Just ran a back of the envelope speed score for Tebow (238 lbs; 4.58 40). He would have landed fifth in this year's draft class, with a speed score that would have put him solidly above the historical first round speed score threshold of 110:

He was behind:
C.Johnson, J. Stewart, D.McFadden, and F.Jones

And ahead of:
M.Forte, R.Mendenhall, S.Slaton, J.Charles, K.Smith.

So yeah, he'll probably be a very good halfback / H-back / fullback hybrid even if he is a below avg. blocker or has occassional drops. And with the intangibles, he is a no-brainer first round draft choice.

23
by joe football (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 1:31pm

Tebow is probably not going to run a 4.58 at the combine

27
by Chip :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 2:24pm

nfldraftscout.com has his 40 listed at 4.58. They also note his high of 4.69 and low of 4.52. If you take the average of those two scores (4.60), he is still listed 5th overall.

26
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 2:11pm

The speed score will not work for Tebow. Speed Score works for running backs because defenses basically play all running backs in a similar way the expect them to carry the ball every time they touch it. Tebow on the other hand has the option to throw the ball more often than not when he keeps the ball in his hands.

This might not sound like it has anything to do with speedscore but it does because speed score rates running backs that will be drafted based on their college running resume. Tebow on the other hand is not a running back that sometimes throws. We do not know what he would have done as a pure running back. His height makes it likely that he never would have been a running back and his running style is not that of a running back.

25
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 2:03pm

How can anyone thing that Tebow will be even a 3rd stringer QB in the NFL or picked anywhere but the last two rounds? He might get a shot or picked higher but it will not be based on anything more than wishful thinking.

He has yet to show that he has any of the qualities required to be an NFL quarterback. The only pass he has down is the bullet in the middle of the field. Can he have touch on the passes or the out passes? He is not comfortable in the pocket, if he has to make a pass he starts to get uncomfortable and doing jump passes or looking confused. He is not required to make more than one read. His style of running will get him killed in the NFL. He will not be able to run throw tacklers in the NFL.

Most telling is that Urban Myer does not trust Tebow throwing the ball. 3rd and long and the play more often than not is a called QB run instead of trusting him to throw the ball to 2 top 10 WR's. Speaking of Urban, when was the last time a Option QB was a success in the NFL at QB?

I don't buy that he will be a pro level TE either. His 40 time seems to be anywhere from 3.2 but really 4.5 to 4.7. Watching him play I would put it towards the higher end. His size would be nothing special for the position. He just screams at best an average to slightly above average TE that will be a project to get there.

If he plays FB, than he is not worth anything but a 6th round pick and really who cares about a late round FB prospect that will be on a practice squad.

42
by Kibbles :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 5:02pm

Meyer doesn't trust Tebow to throw? He calls QB runs on 3rd and long? Have you watched a single UF football game all season long, or are you basing this off of the fact that late in the 3rd quarter of the National Championship game, Tim Tebow got flushed on CALLED PASSES on 3rd and long and wound up converting with huge runs?

Unless, of course, you know of some fancy run plays that involve the QB looking downfield, dodging a passrusher, looking downfield, dodging another passrusher, then trying to look downfield again before tucking it and running. Sort of like an uber-fake-super-delayed-double-draw play or something. Run around for 3 seconds pretending to attempt a pass and THEN make a break for the first down.

When talking about Tebow's measurables, everyone mentions his speed but no one really touches on his size. In the national championship game against Ohio State, I did some digging around and discovered that, coming out of high school, Tim Tebow benched the second most of any player on either squad. Out of the two most talented teams in the entire country, the only player who bench pressed more in high school was an OFFENSIVE LINEMAN. And from reports from the team, Tebow still has one of the five highest benches on the squad. The guy is as strong as NFL-caliber offensive linemen- when you're that strong, I don't think a 4.5-4.6 40 should be preceded by the qualifier "only". Tebow's measurables are off the charts. Whether that translates remains to be seen (see Jones, Matt), but the dude is perhaps the biggest physical freak of nature in the college game today.

28
by rundown (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:12pm

Here's a guy with all of the measurables (size, speed, arm strength, college stats) and all of the intangibles (leadership, confidence, being a "winner", character) and none of the refinement or training that you need from an NFL quarterback. That loose "spiral", that awful footwork, the inability to make good reads -- it's all so poor. His coaching staff has done him a horrible disservice. They've allowed him to succeed on raw talent alone. Had he gone to Cal under Jeff Tedford, we'd probably be looking at a clear first round pick. Instead, it seems unlikely that there will be any way for him to continue at the pro level. I just don't think the NFL has any coaches that are capable of giving such remedial lessons.

As far as innate ability goes, the one question I've had is "Is he smart enough?" Could he read a defense and run a system if he were asked to? And this might be where he falls short. Because with a multi-million dollar career on the line, he has yet to take the steps necessary to address the basic mechanics of his delivery or to work on the mental side of the game. Given that shortcoming, I think it's quite possible that in spite of his prodigious skill set, he lacks some of the very critical raw material necessary for success in pro football.

My guess is that he leverages a freakish combine performance into a high pick and ends up as a bust at the next level.

29
by navin :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:49pm

As a 49ers fan, Tebow reminds me of how raw Steve Young was when the 49ers got him in a trade from the Bucs. Maybe if Tebow got a chance to work with a Shanahan for 2-3 years before he started he could be really good.

31
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:58pm

I don't understand the Vick/Young comparisons... are our memories that short? The guys Tebow reminds me most of are the old Nebraska quarterbacks. And this talk of Tebow as the "best college player ever"... is he really any different that Scott Frost or Tommie Frazier???

FWIW neither of those guys ended up making an impact in the NFL, though Tommie Frazier might have been the best college player I ever saw.

54
by Eddo :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 2:02am

I hadn't thought of those great Nebraska teams, but Frazier is an excellent comparison. He was roughly as dominant as Tebow at the collegiate level due to his sheer talent advantage, but never made it in the pros, where the talent level of the lesser players catches up.

32
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 3:59pm

There is no way he lasts until the last couple of rounds. Even if every NFL team decides he has no future as a QB, they will draft him in the middle rounds as an athlete and figure out a position later.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

33
by andrew :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:00pm

I dunno, he doesn't have the zip on his passes, his delivery speed is slow to begin with.

I don't doubt a creative coordinator could find some use for him.

Tebow's Lewin projection has got to be better than Tarvaris Jackson's, right? he's the poster boy for the projection, completing less than 50% of his passes in college.

So would that make him an upgrade for the Vikings at quarterback?

34
by tuluse :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:13pm

Jackson didn't complete < 50% of his passes. He was at 54% for his career, but he made a huge jump his last year to over 60%.

36
by notanOUfan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:28pm

Heath Shuler
Vince Young
Jason White
Danny Wuerfel(sp)
Eric Crouch (the real antecedent of Tebow)

College QBs who play on physically dominant college teams just do not pan out that often at the NFL level. They are able to get away with too many bad decisions and bad habits at the college level. Given that Tebow is, like Crouch, run first, throw second, I see no reason to think that he will be a successful NFL QB.

38
by notanOUfan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:34pm

Disco Stu, thanks for remembering.

As for Steve Young, he may have been raw and athletic, but he was always pass first @ BYU. To me, there's no analogue between Tebow and S. Young. S. Young was a raw quarterback; Tebow's a single-wing tailback.

41
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:52pm

yes- Eric Crouch! I was trying to remember that name but couldn't quite get it. He's def the new Eric Crouch!

51
by navin :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 12:25am

You're correct about Young passing first, but their physical tools are very similar.

Young was very physical in the way he ran, remember than incredible run against the Vikings? That's why Tebow reminds me of Young. A lot of people say Young could have been an NFL fullback/safety if he didn't make it at QB. He initially had bad footwork and not a great arm. But he was eventually very accurate and learned the footwork in San Fran.

Tebow needs to learn/work on the following:
1) Footwork from under center
2) Reading defenses
3) Accuracy on sideline passes

40
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 4:47pm

Here is another thing rarely mentioned about Tebow. He is left handed. I know that there has been some great Left Handed QB's in the past but Vick was the last one that actually did anything (more as a runner with elite speed). Brunell is the last one that relied on his arm and his best days where what 8 years ago. I get the feeling that southpaws are not conducive to todays protection schemes and that is part of the reason Simms and Leinert never developed.

43
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 5:44pm

I seriously doubt that there is any merit to that argument whatsoever. You could substitute "black" for "left-handed" and the statement would be roughly equivalent.

Steve Young and Boomer Esiason were also left-handed and the game was not substantially different when they played. Jason Campbell is left-handed and was league-average this year by FO stats. I also hesitate to assume that we've heard the last of Leinart. I would not be surprised if he pops up somewhere as a decent starter.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

46
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 6:16pm

Campbell is a righty, In fact, I can't name a single southpaw who was starting by the end of the season

48
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 6:25pm

D'oh, I'm an idiot, Campbell is right-handed of course. Still, I don't buy the argument.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

50
by Jim (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 8:37pm

No, substituting Black for left handed does not make the statement even remotely equivalent. Race is for the most part a cultural construct and is not an indicator of anything. Left handedness on the other hand is physical characteristic like say height.

The game has changed over the last 20 years in the form of protection schemes. 20 years ago lineman where thought to be pretty interchangeable. Today, the left tackle is treated as one of the top 3 or 4 players on the team. The Orlando Paces of the world become specialized at much younger ages to play this specific position of left tackle and switching them to the right tackle position is a slight or great step down.

This is could be completely wrong but it is a legitimate hypothesis.

45
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 6:08pm

Here's your thread summary...

Tebow = Good NFL Prospect, because:
-good character
-leadership
-moxie
-66% completion avg
-dual threat
-big
-strong arm

Tebow = Draft Bust if taken before 3rd round, because:
-bad mechanics
-bad accuracy
-probably not very football smart
-left-handed passer
-schooled in simplistic offense
-not clear what position he could play if not QB

Sorry if I missed anybody's contention.

I'm expecting him to go in the 4th round, maybe the 3rd to some team with an evil genius-type coach who wants to tinker with him. Like has already been pointed out, he doesn't have NFL prototypical size or athletic ability for any position besides the one he is currently playing. And to be a utility man in the NFL means he'd probably have to play special teams, so there is no telling what would come of that, much less a conversion to fullback or TE. Somebody will take a flyer on him with the intention of developing him as a QB.

That said - New England would probably be a good home for him. Cassel is assuredly leaving after this coming season, and Belichick is an evil genius who appears to relish in taking advantage of his players unique skills.

47
by azibuck (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 6:23pm

I'm sorry, Tebow's a better prospect. Here's an interesting profile of McNabb from PFW (Joel Buschbaum). It's kind of funny when most of this thread is about Tebow's shortcomings and how low he'll be drafted.

http://archive.profootballweekly.com/content/archives/draft_1998/quarter...

Most of his positives are about his feet, heart, and leadership. Then...

Negatives: Played in a freeze-option offense, which means he faced mostly man-on-man coverage and did not have to do that much reading of defenses. Generally, when he did have to read defenses, he just had to read half the field. Can still be a streaky and erratic passer. Needs work on his drop-back techniques. Still must improve timing, touch and anticipation of receiver. Tends to hold on to the ball too long and must learn when to unload.

Tebow is much more accurate, but replace "freeze-option" with Wildcat and the criticisms are similar. McNabb? Drafted #2 overall, as a QB.

Has that much changed in 10 years?

52
by jimmo :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 12:39am

great link, thanks Azibuck.

49
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Mon, 01/12/2009 - 8:01pm

The problem isn't that Tebow doesn't have the heart or desire or even the intelligence to be good. Honestly, I fully believed Tebow could be a solid NFL QB until I started watching his specifics.

Scouts are going to hate him because he can't make all the throws. He relies on the straight line cannon. Florida rarely throws outs and corners, and I question if its because Tebow can't arc them in there with any sort of regularity. Tebow relies purely on his athleticism and in the NFL, his athleticism is The Left Shoulder of Doom, which isn't going to make NFL LBs change how they gameplan for him the way athleticism like Vick or Young change how teams have to gameplan them.

The Tebow/McNabb comparison isn't that great because Tebow is more raw than McNabb ever was. Tebow also does not have the elusive speed that McNabb had coming out. Most QBs need to work on their mechanics coming out, but nothing like the way Tebow is going to have to.

Could Tebow be a good QB eventually? Yes. But when you draft someone in the first two rounds, you're saying you expect this person to be a stable of your team for years to come. Tebow doesn't just need the typical work of shifting from a spread to a pro offense, he also needs considerable work in all of his mechanics, his footwork, and reading a D. You just simply can't draft a player that high that's that raw. Maybe 2 years on an NFL Roster can correct most or all of those issues, but you don't draft projects in the first two rounds, and as of now, Tebow is a project QB.

53
by Eddo :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 2:00am

How do Florida fans feel right now?

On one hand, they have to be excited that their superstar is returning for another year. Tebow is obviously an excellent player at the collegiate level.

On the other hand, there are reports that he is coming back solely to improve his draft status by developing his "fundamentals", which I assume means the skills pertinent to a pro-style offense.

There's a problem there, however; Flordia has had its recent success running Meyer's spread/option/whatever-you-want-to-call-it offense. What kind of year can Florida expect to have when its best player is dedicated not to winning with the established system, but rather improving his performance in a totally different season? What if Sam Bradford said he was returning to Oklahoma in order to work on his scrambling skills, because that's what pro scouts told him he needs to improve in order to move up in the draft? Would Oklahoma fans be as excited?

56
by Kibbles :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 7:06pm

What reports? I haven't heard anything like that, and wouldn't believe it even if I did. Watching Tebow play, I can't for a second believe that he has any priorities other than winning the game. Not the way he plays. Leopards don't change their spots.

Tim Layden just wrote a piece for SI.com about what's going to happen to Tebow in the pros. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/tim_layden/01/13/tebow/ind.... According to him, a lot of NFL execs are very interested in seeing how they can make Tebow translate to the pro game. I doubt he'll be a first rounder, but I'd be surprised if he fell past the third.

57
by Eddo :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 7:34pm

I'm going by ESPN's Bottom Line, which said something to the effect of Tebow returning because pro scouts said he needed to improve fundamentals to improve his draft stock.

Now, I don't doubt he'll bust his ass to win every game, but it's conceivable that the coaching staff could tweak the offense in order to make it more like a pro offense. Of course Tebow would still want to win every game, but the rest of the team was recruited to run Meyer's offense, so the offense as a whole might not produce as much.

I'm not using this as a knock on Tebow or anything, just asking.

58
by Kibbles :: Wed, 01/14/2009 - 5:18pm

During UF's slow start to this season, there was speculation that Tebow was trying to play outside of his comfort zone, stay in the pocket more, not run when he otherwise would have. After the Ole Miss loss, it was obvious that Tebow reverted to his old self and started throwing his shoulder around with much more abandon again. It's possible that Florida tries again next year to run a more pro-style offense, but I suspect they would have learned their lessons this year. I think, at this point, Tebow knows what he is and has stopped fighting it.

55
by Mr Shush :: Tue, 01/13/2009 - 11:23am

I'm pretty much with Yaguar. I think Bradford is going to be a fantastic NFL QB. His accuracy and touch are superb, he makes good decisions, and he does the little things (selling play fakes etc.) really well, which I think speaks to work ethic and attention to detail, two vital qualities in an NFL quarterback. Yes, he could do with learning to deal with pressure better, and for that reason he should probably go back to Oklahoma for at least one more year, but if he came out this year, and I was running the Lions draft, I would take him first overall. If I was running the Texans draft, and he fell to #15, I would seriously consider drafting him, sitting him behind Schaub for a year or two, and then trading Schaub when I thought he was ready. He's that good.

Tebow . . . I really don't see him as ever likely to be capable of running a pro-style offense. That said, I think he is the best candidate there is ever likely to be for a quarterback who might be able to run the option or something similar in the pros. The objection generally raised is that running the option in the NFL will get your quarterback killed. Tebow might be able to stand up to the punishment. No NFL team would ever do this, but I would strongly consider drafting him in the first round and implementing an option offense, wildcat, single wing or some similar system. Failing that, I believe he is probably worth a late first as a running back for a conventional offense that wants to implement a few plays a game that take advantage of his passing skills as a wrinkle.

And as to the notion that you don't draft a quarterback in the first two rounds as a project, I couldn't disagree more. No quarterback drafted between picks #20 and #64 has been a competent starter in his first or second season since Brett Favre. If you're drafting a guy in that range as anything other than a project, you are delusional.