Monday, 27 July 2009

Kyle Rota on Tim Tebow

I recently caught up with College Talent Scout's Kyle Rota and took the chance to ask him about this year's hot topic in the draft world - Tim Tebow. For the last few days we've been discussing everything from Tebow's throwing mechanics, to his draft stock and potential landing spot in Seattle next year. It seems nobody splits opinion more than the Gators QB, but what are Kyle Rota's expectations ahead of the 2009 season and how does he compare to another recently drafted NFL quarter back?

"He has as much to prove this year as anyone in college football."
-Kyle Rota, College Talent Scout

To read the rest of Kyle's thoughts, click here.

"Let me talk about Tebow by comparing him to another player. Like Tebow, he played out of a spread-option system in college. Like Tebow, he went to a major program, got playing time early and won a national championship as a starter.

Like Tebow, his college stats were impeccable but his throwing motion gave scouts cause for concern. Like Tebow, this quarterback was renown for his leadership, size, and mobility.

Tim Tebow shares an eerie resemblance to Vince Young. Obviously we question Young's maturity now, but his play in the Rose Bowl to beat USC for a national title was every bit as powerful as Tebow's post-Ole Miss speech in 2008.

That isn't all bad.

Vince Young may not have the maturity to be an NFL QB, but he's shown flashes that convince me nobody graded the kid *wrong*. In fact, he's been accurate even at the NFL level.

He's obviously mobile and strong.

Considering the poor weapons he's been throwing too, it wasn't surprising that his play on the field struggled - until he was benched. We just saw a QB play well on a winning team and dubbed him a leader in the NFL.

That can't be the way we scout a player, but that's what we did.

We did the same thing with Peyton Manning, who was considered by some to be a lesser leader than Ryan Leaf because Manning never took Tennessee to a National Championship (Manning went #1, but plenty of people thought Leaf would be better).

We're doing the same thing with Tebow, who seems like a leader. But is he? I can't answer that, because I don't have a better way for scouting leadership. All I know is that we do it wrong, so I am hesitant to put a lot of weight into that trait.

As a passer, Tebow has a great arm and seems pretty accurate - accuracy is tough to scout in the Florida offense, so I might rescind that. But his passes seem to go where he wants to go.

However, his throwing mechanics are a mess. Of the five things I look for in a throwing motion, Tebow passes only 1 consistently - release point (his is fine). He takes too long, his balance is often off, his footwork is atrocious and he rarely gets his body into his throws (although he does seem to when he throws deep, when it matters most).

Vince Young had a funky delivery, but he passed 3 1/2 (His release point is low, but he's 6'5 so he still gets more air than most QBs) and the one he failed (sufficient torque) is fine on deeper tosses, like Tebow.

The similarities are really quite scary.

He has a big arm when he wants to, and sometimes gets good velocity on his medium-range targets. However, he also sometimes floats the ball when he could throw it harder, and has never lined up against a team with more talent than his team.

To me, he seems like someone who could turn into Ben Roethlisberger with some hard work - a guy who will take a beating due to slow release, can run around a bit, can throw it deep well and short well enough, and can lead a team. He doesn't look like a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady (perfect passers who can do whatever you want if you give them decent weapons), but he looks like someone who could fall into that 2nd tier.

You'll notice I haven't mentioned reading defenses. This is an area I don't feel good about grading a true junior QB on - I'll be going entirely off senior film for Tebow's mental skills, and probably for his entire game. The offense he operates out of makes him a risk simply by virtue of his footwork and reads.

Personally, I wouldn't take the 2008 Tebow on day 1. But, come draft day 2010, I might be singing a different tune.

He's progressed well every year in college, and that is important - shows he is still learning. His work ethic is reportedly incomparable. He's comfortable enough with the media and pressure (Young's downfall).

I'm concerned - not writing off - his ability to meld with an NFL locker room. His act could rub some the wrong way, or others could rub him the wrong way. Right now, I have him as a 3rd round project. I don't think he will deliver on the investment, but there's enough potential to make him worth the small risk to the right team."
-Kyle Rota, College Talent Scout


Patrick said...

Tim Tebow is definitely going to be the talk of the year. I'm sticking with my guns here and saying I think the risk is worth it. I understand the comparison to Vince Young, but one advantage is that more than likely, we would still have Hasselbeck available for at least a year or two. Vince Young was thrown into the fire by midseason.

Rob Staton said...

Young's situation is a curious one. The Titans won a lot of games with him starting. For whatever reason, he started last year in the wrong frame of mind and it could essentially end his career.

The Madden Curse strikes again!

With Young, he has a strange side arm throwing action, he isn't your typical pocket passer and he'd never wrack up 4000 passing yards and pull a defence to pieces.

However, he's also talented enough to get the job done. If you catered your offense with him at the heart, gave him some weapons and used some portions of the spread, why couldn't a QB like that have success?

Essentially that is the situation that would face Seattle. If you draft Tebow and intend to use him as a franchise QB one day, you'd have to build the offense to suit him. I honestly don't think you can mould Tebow into the ideal pocket passer. If you want that guy, you draft a Matt Ryan.

As Kyle suggests, you'd probably have to use him in a Roethlisberger kind of way. Obviously Big Ben has shown you can win in that style as he has two rings. It would be a huge shift from the Mike Holmgren offense to go to that power system that Pittsburgh use, but if you take Tebow that is the situation you're faced with.

Either way, it might not be such a bad idea to look at how our offense will function in the future. There's a lot of post season optomism right now, but to me I kind of feel we're in a cross roads. We're still some rebuilding away from truly seeing the Jim Mora Seahawks as a finished article, particularly with Knapp's offense. Yes he's got the WCO roots, but it's Holmgren's QB... it's mainly guys drafted or signed for Holmgren's offense.

It'll be interesting to see what direction the offense does go in the next few years.

Patrick said...

I've only been a Seahawks fan long enough to know Homlgren and his style of play. For me, even the zone blocking scheme is exciting because it represents something different. Perhaps going in a different direction is what Seattle might need. It's hard for me to say because these are the players I know and love but if it helps our gameplay by focusing on some new players and adapting to their styles it may ultimately make us a better team. I could be wrong but doesn't Houshmandzadeh seem to fit the Big Ben style of play? After all, he's not a downfield threat but he has amazing hands and great route running abilities. How do you feel Tim Tebow would fare in a zone blocking scheme?

Rob Staton said...

I'm not sure how the ZBS would affect Tebow because essentially, I wouldn't want him running the ball to much.

He's always going to have that temptation to have a run and I don't really want him thinking like that. I don't want him to look at his first or second WR option, see nothing and just take off. Sure, we can set up some plays where maybe he does run, or some trick plays in a wildcat style. But him running the ball too much will only lead to trouble with his health in the long term.

That in itself makes you question drafting Tebow, because you might have to take away one of the real unique benefits of his game.

Unless someone wants their QB taking hits every week, I'm not sure you'd encourage him to run.

Wildcat - sometimes. Big Ben esque using his legs to get out of situations - yes. RB playing QB? Not for me.

Seth H. said...

Hey Rob, I know there's still a whole senior season, but so far, here's a evaluation I like.

I don't like Tebow as a QB, but I also hate Florida, so my bias isn't really fair.

Rob Staton said...

Thanks for the link, Seth. Much appreciated.

Matt McGuire is right with a lot of his diagnosis on the pro's and con's of Tebow's game.

However, there's still something about Tebow that intrigues me. Would I select Tebow in the first round if I was a GM? No.

But if Tim Ruskell does exactly that, I for one will be excited to see what happens.

Patrick said...

I do think the Big Ben feature of using his legs to get out a situation is an important one. I agree however that having a RB for a QB is not a good situation for every play. It will definitely be interesting to see how he used no matter which team he is drafted to.

Rob Staton said...

I think another interesting thing with Tebow's stock is clearly there are teams out there who will see him as a first round pick and others who won't spend anything more than a third.

For example, the Jaguars. If they struggle this year, particularly at QB, I have to believe that franchise would seriously consider drafting Tebow in round one. The financial ramifications for starters would be huge for that market, let alone for a team in serious need of an identity.

However, a team like the Niners for example might stay away from Tebow at all costs after the failed experiment with Alex Smith.

Seattle is hard to decipher because everything about Tebow screams Ruskell. Having two first rounders may prepare the team to take a chance on a guy like Tebow that early should they wish to. However, we have no idea what direction Ruskell, Mora and Knapp intend to take the Seahawks offense. Would they seriously look to build an offense around Tim Tebow? Or will Ruskell put the intangibles to one side and break down those mechanics and say, 'maybe there's just too much of a risk?'

It's probably only fair we talk about some other subjects on the blog over the next few days so don't worry anyone who's tired of talking Tebow. However, it's pretty obvious he's going to be the big story all the way to New York next April.

As an aside, I'll be in Florida between August 18th and September 2nd. I'm sure Mr. Tebow can spare us a few moments to talk Seahawks and draft...

Patrick said...

As a resident of Orlando, FL I hope you have a great trip! I must admit, even without all this Tebow talk, this has already been a very interesting draft year. Those 2 draft picks could not be more exciting!

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