Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NFL Tebow: The Formula for Success

The Senior Bowl insanity is over, and we get a bit of a lull about Tebow's NFL potential -- until the NFL Combine in a few weeks. I wanted to take a second to step back and put into perspective where we are, after the experience in Mobile.

There is at least one strange assumption that goes into critics' complaints about Tebow's NFL potential: That he somehow should look or feel ready to be an NFL QB right now.

No one is suggesting that Tebow is ready to step into the NFL and start as a conventional QB right now. Very very few college QBs are ready to do that.

What I don't get is the idea that with 2-3 years -- YEARS -- of full-time training from NFL coaches who presumably know what they're doing, Tebow can't become an NFL QB.

That's like saying take Tebow's entire college career as a starter and devote it instead to simply learning (or re-learning) the proper mechanics of being an NFL QB.

It says less about Tebow and more about NFL coaches if they aren't able to take one of the great college QBs of all time and equip him to make the transition to the NFL.

Now, should Tebow be a 1st-rounder? Should any QB who needs that much help be a 1st-rounder? It's a lot of money and there's a lot of opportunity cost.

Here's the thing: It doesn't matter, particularly in the case of Tebow. His draft position was never going to be based purely on his skills or his potential.

It was always going to be informed -- heavily -- by his star power. That's why a team like Jacksonville -- maybe even Buffalo -- would defy the scouting reports and take him in the Top 10.

It is, simultaneously, irrational and rational. It is irrational because scouts don't grade him as a Top 10 pick (hardly). It is rational because Tebow might impact the bottom line, far more than a highly graded defensive tackle.

And I'm still convinced that with a bold and innovative coach -- and I'm not saying the NFL has many of them, but you can always hope -- Tebow can contribute significantly as a rookie, even if he is playing a limited role: Short-yardage situations or near the goal-line.

It's not unlike how he was used his freshman year -- and that worked out OK.

The same scouts who are doubting Tebow now had no conception of the Wildcat or single-wing in the NFL before the Dolphins sprung it on the league two years ago. Now, it's a staple.

In the short-term, all it takes is a coach creative enough to build on the success of the Wildcat. In the long-term, it takes a coach good enough to teach a talented player how to be an NFL QB.

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