In not shocking whatsoever news, several talent evaluators are convinced that Tim Tebow’s performance this season is hurting his draft status considerably. Oh, so I guess that tells us that these “talent evaluators” have now actually seen Tebow play quarterback?
Having watched Tebow a lot over the past four years, I can tell you that while he has incredible intangibles and he’s a great kid, I just don’t think he’ll ever be a successful NFL quarterback. Top QBs hate to hear that they’re just “system guys,” but Tebow certainly fits into that category.
ESPN’s NFL draft blogger Steve Muench says Tebow’s struggles over the past few weeks have likely hurt his draft status big time. Anyone who didn’t see this coming is either an idiot, a Florida fan, or both. Most likely both.
So far in 2009 Tebow has thrown just eight touchdowns while tossing four interceptions. His completion percentage is off almost a full point from last season and more than three points from his 2007 numbers (2009: 63.6 percent, 2008: 64.4 percent, 2007: 66.9 percent). His yards-per-attempt have also dropped consistently since 2007 and he’s already been sacked 15 times this year (he was sacked 15 times all of last season and just 13 times in 2007). His quarterback rating is currently sitting at 151.33, while in 2008 he finished at 172.37 and in 2007 he posted a 172.47 rating.
The thing that makes Tebow so effective as a college quarterback is that he’s a threat to run. Some people have made the point that Michael Vick was a successful runner in the NFL for years and therefore Tebow could also use that dimension successfully. Well, Tebow is definitely not Michael Vick. He’s a power runner, not an electrifying runner who can run by, around and past people. Tebow runs over people. At the next level when average linebackers can match his 6’3, 246-pound frame and will probably be faster than him, Tebow will get killed if he tries to run the way he does in college.
That will leave the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner to rely on his arm to get things done. With that in mind, I think we all need to just be honest about things. His accuracy is average to below average and his release is atrocious.
Rather than finishing his throws by firing his shoulder through the zone, snapping his wrist and finishing with his hand down by his right pocket (since he’s a lefty), Tebow does absolutely everything wrong. He also finishes with his hand high and releases the ball like a shot putter or a knuckleballer would, by opening his hand as he lets go. That accounts for the lack of sustained zip on his throws, because they are rarely spirals. His unorthodox release leads to a decrease in RPMs on the ball and means his passes tend to float the further they fly.
Tebow has also been the beneficiary of fantastic talent on the offensive line in front of him throughout his career. Because of that, he often takes far too long to get rid of the ball. He has a long, looping, three-quarter delivery, so in the NFL his decisions would need to be made much faster. Florida brought in new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler in the offseason specifically to get Tebow ready for the NFL. So far he’s failed because almost nothing in Tebow’s game has changed and in some areas he has regressed a bit.
Scouts Inc. rates both Tebow’s accuracy and release as below average. I think his accuracy is a tad better than they rate it, but that could be due to the fact that he’s had so many talent receivers around him who could adjust to errant passes and still haul them in.
Muench claims Tebow has issues when facing pressure, evidenced by his two interceptions in Florida’s 29-19 win over Mississippi State on Saturday. He also says Florida’s quarterback struggles to make the routine throw look routine. I’m not totally on board with calling the kid out for tossing two interceptions against pressure though.
Where I do agree with Scouts Inc. is on Tebow’s arm strength. They list him as above average. They say it’s good but not elite. I feel the same way. A telling throw for most quarterback is the deep out route, and Tebow can make those tosses. On short to medium-range passes he can fit the ball in but, as mentioned before, his down-field throws tend to flutter.
If Tebow ended up in the right system he could be successful because of his excellent mental makeup and his willingness to put his body on the line for he team. He will likely be a teammate and fan-favorite instantly wherever he goes. In my mind, the best he can really hope for is to be a less accurate, slower version of Steve Young.
Then again, Young’s best asset was his accuracy.
Muench claims that Scouts Inc. currently projects Tebow as a second round pick. We don’t see him going until at least the second round and there’s probably no way he falls past the third. Someone will take him and if they can’t see him becoming a quarterback, they’ll try and mold him into a tight end or H-back who can maybe run some wildcat stuff as well.
Tebow is easily the most debated, most puzzling prospect to head into the draft in years. While we think he’s one of the best college players ever, we just don’t see him being successful as a quarterback in the NFL.