Tuesday, January 5, 2010

NFL Tebow: The Next Derek Anderson?

Part of the analysis of Tim Tebow as an NFL QB -- even a full-time NFL QB, as opposed to a specialist -- is trying to find comparisons to current or post NFL QBs. Short of the "Wildcat QB" stuff, I personally like Allen Barra's comparison of Tebow to Donovan McNabb.

But Jeff Risdon at RealGM.com offered up another interesting comp: Derek Anderson.
I think the Sugar Bowl is a good microcosm off all things good and bad. Tebow is clearly a rare leader, a positive force both on the field and in the locker room. He has the requisite arm strength, better than average. Tebow is physically tough and hard to tackle, moves well, and can make plays with his legs. His short-area accuracy is very good. Those are all attributes of a very good starting NFL quarterback.

But there are warts too, and these are the ones that his most fervent supporters don't like to understand. Yes, he completed 31 of 35 against Cincinnati's woefully overmatched secondary, but I saw a lot of accuracy issues. Tebow makes his receivers work far too often to make the catch; the ball is rarely right where it needs to be, it's always a couple feet high or behind where a great thrower would put it. It doesn't show up so much on short throws, where he can rocket the ball nicely, as he showed on the 7-yarder to Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown. It shows when Tebow works the deeper realms and the perimeter of the field. The ball is catchable, but the receiver either has to break stride or jump up or turn back and reach. When paired with Tebow's elongated, slow delivery, that turns into Derek Anderson in the NFL. And that's actually who I see most in Tim Tebow as a passer: Derek Anderson, a streaky, fearless slinger who can be great in short stretches, but stares down his receiver too readily, doesn't progress through his reads quickly, and almost never hits the inner circle of the bullseye. Tebow obviously has a lot more to offer as a runner, where I see him akin to a younger Daunte Culpepper: physical, strong, long-striding with good vision but not especially fast or quick.
He goes on to offer the projection of late 2nd/early 3rd, with the standard (and continually remarkable) caveat that a team could easily reach to take him higher.

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