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