Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Tebow's stock, the NFL and his final game
Tim Tebow will play his last game in the Swamp this weekend against Florida State, with the NFL beckoning alongside a potential third appearance in the BCS Championship game. Without doubt the Gators quarterback will be remembered as one of the greatest players in college football history. However, it seems nobody polarises opinion more than Tebow and his potential future in the pro's. It's been discussed from the moment he took over the starting job in Florida and it continues today.
The critics have a lot of things they can pick on. Tebow has worked predominantly in a spread offense run by the same coach that helped make Alex Smith a number one pick. Clearly, that one hasn't worked out well at all for San Francisco. His mechanics are a major point of contention and his painfully slow release has led to issues in college games let alone the NFL. He can be hesitant in the pocket, he doesn't always make good reads and he won't be able to resort to running the ball as much at the next level. Tebow's also had the benefit of featuring alongside an incredibly talented supporting cast, boasting a defense that arguably outclasses anything else in the SEC and a number of talented weapons on offense.
Coming into the 2009 season, many waited with anticipation to see if Tebow would make any adjustments ahead of next year's draft. Missing the now departed Percy Harvin and some other noticable components, how would this affect his ability to put up huge numbers? The answer was a simple one really and shouldn't be a surprise. He's not adjusted his game at all and why should he? Florida are currently on a tremendous 21-game unbeaten run and stand on the precipace of an undefeated season. Why fix something that isn't broken on the off chance it'll help one man's stock? Tebow was never going to be that selfish.
But the fact he's without his stars, the Harvin's etc, has certainly had an impact on his numbers. An almost certain candidate for the Heisman at the start of the year, he's only an outsider in that particular race. Touchdown's thrown this year? Just fourteen. He threw 62 in his first two years as a starter. The year he won the Heisman, he added 23 rushing scores. In 2009, he has just eleven. Tebow will care little because he's very much a 'team first' individual, but this isn't exactly a blaze of glory to complete his college career.
It's not all about numbers either. When I've watched Tebow this year, his performances from a technique and execution point of view have been decidedly poor. There were a couple of games, most noticably at home to Arkansas, when it could've proved costly.
So taking all this into account, why are people still lining up to praise college football's biggest star? Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Jon Gruden have all offered rich assesment's of Tebow, with the former suggesting Tebow could revolutionise the NFL. Jacksonville Jaguars GM Gene Smith has already said he'd love to keep the quarterback in state. Now, Wes Bunting from the National Football Post says despite all the mechanical issues, Tebow can still have a productive career in the NFL:
"Tebow hasn’t had the type of senior season many expected and has not taken the steps needed to prove he has what it takes to be a traditional dropback-type quarterback in the NFL. But that’s not to say he can’t be a successful starting-caliber QB. Look at what the Titans have done in recent weeks with Vince Young, who’s not a traditional dropback passer and is not the type of quarterback most NFL teams covet. If a team is open to using an unconventional offense for Tebow, allowing him to work from the spread, get him outside the pocket and run some power inside, there’s really no reason he can’t be a capable NFL quarterback."
"The idea of every team having a traditional dropback, strong-armed Carson Palmer-type quarterback is unreasonable because there’s a limited number of guys who can do that. However, if a team is willing to look outside the box and be creative with its play-calling, I think Tebow could end up having a successful career leading an NFL offense." - Wes Bunting, National Football Post
It's an interesting angle. It's obvious to anyone who has watched Tebow that he isn't going to be the traditional drop-back pocket passer. It'd take years to mould Tebow into something that frankly, is unnatural. You draft the guy because you are prepared to set up your offense to cater for his presence. You'd need a solid offensive line to prevent any issues with that low, slow release leading to batted passes and fumbles. You better get some nice weapons and incoporate some wildcat and spread formations. You also have to accept that Tebow will take a lot of hits because he will run with the ball - that's a big risk.
But I have to admit, there is something about Tebow that just intrigues me. His leadership, his character. This is a guy who is going to do whatever it takes to be a success and should he fail, it won't be through lack of effort. He'll take the team on his shoulders and make it his own, offering an instant identity to whichever franchise selects him.
Will he make mistakes? Yes. Will you need to work on those mechanics? Of course.
But Vince Young, despite all his personal problems and issues has found a way to win football games. Sometimes that may be in spite rather than because of his presence, but he's not held Tennessee back when he starts. They're 4-0 with Young behind center and 0-6 without him. There's absolutely no reason why Tebow can't be part of a winning team even if he's not throwing for 300 yards and trying to do his best Peyton Manning impression. You can't measure 'will to win' at the combine, but if you could Tebow would get a top grade. The question you have to ask is whether or not that alone will cut it at the next level?
Because essentially, there aren't any other guys like Peyton. You could wait forever trying to find that one quarterback and the year they arrive, you might have to be the worst team in the NFL to have a chance to get them. Sometimes you need to roll the dice, adapt because the quarterback you've taken isn't what we constitute to be the ideal.
I firmly expect Tim Tebow to go in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Someone will take a chance and they'll pay a premium to find out whether Tebow is going to be a bust or the best calculated gamble in years. Come Saturday evening, Tebow won't be playing at the Swamp anymore. He's a maximum of three games away from looking to the future - as a potential starter in the NFL.
Posted by Rob Staton