Chicago Sun-Times

Tebow Experiment Begins

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If Jerry Angelo hadn't traded for Jay Cutler last offseason he would be trying to solve the same complex puzzle so many others have been trying to solve.
He would be trying to solve the riddle that is Tim Tebow.

The Tebow Experiment began earlier this week during Senior Bowl practices and continues later today during the game itself, and whether or not he can approach the success in the pros that he had in college was the topic of the week in Mobile.
Don't think all the scouts and coaches evaluating his every move have all the answers, either. If that were the case Joe Montana wouldn't have lasted until the third round and Tom Brady the sixth. If the so-called experts could accurately predict which quarterback would be successful teams wouldn't have flushed away first-round picks on Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf, Cade McNown, Matt Leinart and JaMarcus Russell.
So far, nobody has learned anything they didn't already know. Tebow, who played in a shotgun offense at Florida, had trouble handling direct snaps, which was to be expected. He is neither as accurate as he needs to be nor as polished dropping back in the pocket as most NFL scouts would like him to be, which should also come as no surprise given the offense he ran in college.
"There's no question about his ability to work hard and his football intelligence is fabulous," said former Bears quarterback and longtime NFL assistant Zeke Bratkowski, who has been working with Tebow this winter. "I'm sure there are great offensive minds out there that would love to have him because he's got a lot of intangibles that other quarterbacks don't have."
That's the one word that is already been overused when describing Tebow: Intangibles. How they will transition to the NFL is what is at the center of a great debate. The one thing you don't want to do, according to one scout, is get so wrapped up what he doesn't do well that you forget what he has done as well as anyone in college football history --- win.
He doesn't have Cutler's arm, although he can throw the ball as hard --- if not as accurately --- as Drew Brees. The ball doesn't always come off his hand the way it should, which leads to wobbly passes reminiscent of Jim McMahon. He's not a between-the-numbers passer. His balls are often a shade low, high or off to one side.
He has what one scout described as an "elongated" throwing motion. His release needs to be quicker and his release point higher.
But what everybody most wants to know is the one thing you can't measure. Is he football smart? Based on his college career the answer screams yes. Will the game slow down for him in the pros like it did in college? That's the question that it will take a multi-million dollar contract to answer.
"He'll make it," said former Redskins coach Jim Zorn. "He's got grit. He'll develop different skills because of the way he's going to be coached at this level. It's not better it's just different. He really cares. You love guys like that because they give themselves a chance to get better. He'll fit in wherever he goes but he looks to me like he wants to be coached."
To get the most out of Tebow a coach will have to be inventive and play to his strengths, especially early in his career. It makes the most sense to create a package of plays for him that he can run in specialty situations that are more like the spread offense he ran in college. That way he can have some success right away while developing the skills that will make him successful long term.
"He has to make quicker decisions," said former NFL quarterback Jay Schroeder, who has been watching Tebow this week. "The game is going to be a little faster than he anticipates but every kid out here is in that same boat. But he brings a dynamic with the way he can run the ball. He can create a lot of mismatches."
He would've been an ideal Bear if only because nowhere else would a quarterback who can also serve as a short-yardage back be more appreciated. It makes no sense for the draft-pick depleted Bears to select him now that they have Cutler, however, but Tebow would be a good fit for a team that can afford to be patient.
Is he worth a first-round pick? No way. As a third-rounder with the right coaching staff, you might not want to bet against him.

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Two things that will kill Tebow if he is asked to contribute as a QB early in his career:

1- his delivery is about half the speed of Leftwich's delivery coming out of college, and I thought that was the slowest delivery I would ever see out of an NFL prospect. Not only can the DBs jump the route, but they can stop for a Gatorade before they get there to pick the ball. If he doesn't triple his release speed, he will never be a successful QB in this league.

2--His running ability gets a lot of hype, but it isn't the same kind of running style that Dan Lefevbre has, where he can make people miss in the open field. A 240 lb QB is nothing new in the NFL, and trying to bowl people over in the open field as he cannot make them miss is not going to work. He will be trucked early and often by safeties in the NFL. He is too slow once he gets moving to be an open field threat.

I question his ability to move to H-back or TE for the same reasons. He is athletic, but not for a skill position guy. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't see any other position for him in the NFL besides QB, and right now, there is no chance of him being ready by August to compete for any job. His footwork is lazy, his reads are like watching Dexter Manley try to decipher War and Peace when he was in college, and his decision making is too slow. A timing offense will never work with him until he completely overhauls his game. Kris Jenkins was even more brutal in his assessment on NFL Network yesterday. He basically said if this is what he is bringing to the NFL, he has no shot at a career there.

He is a great kid, with solid leadership ability, but will a team draft him in the first 3 rounds when it is obvious it will take 3-4 years to break him down and rebuild him as a solid QB? I would not.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on January 30, 2010 11:52 AM.

Martz talking to Bears today about coordinator job was the previous entry in this blog.

Tebow Experiment Begins is the next entry in this blog.

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