Does Tebow Make Sense for the Colts?

QB Tim Tebow (Rick Dole/Getty)

In the wake of his wildly successful college career and his even more potent offseason, Tim Tebow is now being scrutinized by every team in the league and their fans. The talking heads are speculating that the Colts might take a chance on him. Is he a good fit? Brad Keller takes a look.

There are those that would suggest that Tim Tebow would be a better long term replacement for Gijon Robinson than Peyton Manning.  There are those that think that Tebow could not only be a viable quarterback in the NFL, but that he could possibly revolutionize the position with his unique blend of athletic ability, leadership, confidence, and determination.  Each camp has their positions and their arguments, but that doesn't answer the most important question on the minds of Colts fans: Does Tim Tebow make sense for Indianapolis?

The answer to that question — as is the case with many of life's important questions — is, it depends.  What would they be asking him to do?  Where would they be able to draft him?  When would they need him to be ready to take over the offense?


Tebow's athleticism makes him an intriguing prospect, but is he an NFL quarterback?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

If they'd be asking him to come into the game to run some variation of the Wildcat offense or to run the option, then he would be able to step right in and contribute.  If they'd be asking him to play tight end — he's certainly big enough and powerful enough, since he's heavier and probably stronger than Dallas Clark — he'd need to learn the position.

That could take a very short amount of time, since he was able to make considerable changes to his mechanics and throwing motion in a relatively short period of time, but he would ultimately be playing out of position and the Colts already have plenty of capable tight ends.

Asking him to play quarterback for this team — at any point, nonetheless immediately — would be a tall order.  Two things would need to happen: Either he would need to assimilate the offense as is (and even Manning is still evolving in his knowledge of the nuances and timing of Tom Moore's scheme) or a new offense would need to be installed to maximize his abilities and mask his weaknesses.

The second option would be easier and faster, but would then compromise the rest of the skill position players on the team that have already grown accustomed to the current system.  Regardless, it's safe to say that Tebow would not be able to start at quarterback for Indianapolis in the 2010 season unless the Colts ran an offense that was very similar to the one he ran at Florida.

It's true that Indianapolis runs a high percentage of their offense from the shotgun formation, but they also require that their quarterback be extremely precise.  Tebow was very accurate throughout his college career, completing 66.4 percent of his passes, but he is not a very precise passer that can throw a ball to a spot with velocity.  He has the arm strength and ability to get the ball there and has the work ethic to train his body to make those throws to those spots, but it will take time. 

What cannot be denied is that Tebow is a tremendous athlete that also has a rare blend of intangibles — determination, confidence, leadership ability, and humility — and that he was extraordinarily productive throughout his college career at the highest level of competition the NCAA has to offer.

Ordinarily, a player with that kind of resume would be a sure-fire first-round pick, but scouts doubt his ability to do the little things like taking a snap from under center and hitting a receiver on the outside shoulder in stride on a seven yard slant route.  They're not sure he'd be able to diagnose a blitz at the line of scrimmage or have the foresight to check down to a run when needed.

But, the basic issue comes down to tendencies and mechanics.  If Tebow were a 14-year-old kid attending his first high school football camp, those factors could be easily altered.  Tebow is a 22-year-old man, though, and it will be difficult to break him of the habits that he has formed throughout his playing career even if he was able to look impressive in front of scouts with a new throwing motion in a rehearsed workout.  What would happen if that were a game situation?  Would his mechanics start to break down?  Would he go with his instincts and try to get the first down by running the ball and attempting to bowl the defender over?

All of these questions and scenarios are what makes Tebow an interesting prospect for the 2010 draft.  The hoopla has been surrounding him since the college football season wrapped and it's not likely that it will get any less intense.  Aaron Rodgers was able to learn in the shadow of a legend, correct his mechanics, and become one of the better quarterbacks in the league.

Surely Colts fans wouldn't want a Tebow-Manning situation to unfold the same way as the Rodgers-Favre situation did in Green Bay.  Willis McGahee had a torn ligament in his knee when he was drafted in the first round, a decision that was at least partially fueled by hype.  It's possible that Tebow could be vaulted into the first round given all the variables in play.

In that eventuality, he would be beyond a luxury pick for Indianapolis and, if the Colts selected him in the first round, it could be viewed as one of the most misguided selections in the draft's history.  Drafting yet another quarterback with upside and flaws in the hopes that he could be refined and one day take over for Manning would be throwing good money after bad.  Indianapolis has been down that road before and it is filled with peril.

Tebow is currently rated as the third-best player at the quarterback position and the 51st-best player overall.  That would mean that the Colts would either need to trade up in the second round or choose him 31st overall in order to secure his services.  At this point, there are too many other more pressing needs on their list to risk taking their chances on a player that could develop into the next best thing or could just be a footnote in draft history.


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