Sunday, August 21, 2011

What if Tim Tebow Changed Positions, as Terrelle Pryor Says He's Willing To Do?

Living in Colorado, it is virtually impossible to go a day listening to local sports news without hearing a mention of Tim Tebow.  The guy is seemingly everywhere, from his FPS commercials on tv, to his bestselling autobiographical book on the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble.

There's one place where you won't be finding him soon: on the playing field as a starter for the Denver Broncos.

AP Photo
Call me harsh, but this pre-season should be a bit of a wake up call for young Tebow. Josh McDaniels saw in Tebow the pure desire and love for the game and thought he could turn Tebow into something special.  Once McDaniels was fired, however, and John Elway came into the picture, Tebow has had to start over without a head coach that considers him his personal project.

Drafting Tebow in the first round was possibly the worst thing that McDaniels could have done for Tebow.  By virtue of his draft slot and the attention paid to him by his head coach last year, Tebow's value as a quarterback was artificially enhanced.  Fans (especially his long-term ones) had unrealistic expectations that Tebow would be the permanent starter for the Broncos very soon.

However, one thing didn't happen.  Tebow didn't get any better in the off-season.  He didn't work with a quarterback coach during the lockout to improve his footwork.  Instead of leading the Broncos in off-season workouts, he went on a book-signing tour.  Kyle Orton had attended several workout sessions with the team before Tebow's first one.

So how does Tebow compare to Terrelle Pryor? Well, they're both big physical running quarterbacks who probably are never going to get a shot at being someone's full-time starter.  Pryor, who should be taken in tomorrow's supplemental draft, at least has a good enough agent and support group that they've convinced him to try any position that an NFL team wants to play him.  That could be wide receiver, tight end, or even as a Brad Smith-style wildcat back.

If Tebow truly can't make it work at quarterback this year and continues to be third string, he needs to look to his football future and see what he wants.  If he wants to be a quarterback, he might never get a shot.  If the Broncos could trade him, they probably would.  However, I'm not sure what, if any, value they could get for him.  If Kyle Orton was only worth a fourth round pick (even Miami didn't make that trade), and he's got a lot of starting experience, would Tebow merit a six or seventh round pick? Is it worth it to trade him for that?

Now let's actually look at what team would actually want Tebow? He's a project at quarterback and will require a season or two starting to get going.  By my estimation, there are only three teams in the NFL that don't have a strong starting quarterback.  I'm also eliminating teams that drafted a QB in the first two rounds of the 2011 draft.  That leaves just Miami, Seattle, and Oakland as places where Tebow could potentially start.  However, Denver won't trade with Oakland, and they couldn't get Miami to drop a third-round pick for Orton, so working out a beneficial deal for Tebow seems unlikely.  Seattle is also an unlikely spot for a guy like Tebow considering the typical pro-style offense that Pete Carroll favors isn't his forte.

Don't forget that in next year's draft there is a strong group of quarterbacks set to come into the league: Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley should go in the top 5 next year to one of the aforementioned teams, and there's more good quality college quarterbacks after them.  There's just not going to be a starting position for Tebow to move into outside of Denver.

Would Tebow's ego allow him to move to another position? I've heard some say that he is a natural fullback, and could be perennial All-Pro if he switched.  He has a knack for finding the open hole, and for creating one where there's not.  He rarely fumbles, could do a fullback toss in a pinch, and would work hard as a blocker on every play.  

As fullback, however, could he handle not being the one calling the plays? Could he handle not being the offensive leader? He can be "a" leader, just not "the" leader.  Could Kyle Orton play alongside him?

At this point, the one thing that I think would make a difference is if former Broncos coach McDaniels could just talk to Tebow for a few minutes.  Now that he's working with a #1 pick in Sam Bradford, who looks like he's going to be a really good QB in the NFL, McDaniels might be able to see now the error in selecting Tebow when he did.  If he could be the one to explain to Tebow why he never should have picked him so high, perhaps Tebow would then be open-minded enough to try something different.  He can still be great.  He can't if he's riding the pine.

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