“We expected to see some NFL-style tweaks in his game,” said Rob Rang, director of NFLdraftscout.com. “We haven’t seen any changes, and his decision-making in the pocket has gotten worse.”
Most agree that Tebow hasn’t bolstered his stock because of Florida’s conservative offense and his lowest statistical production in three years as a starter. Tebow has thrown for 1,730 yards, 12 touchdowns with four interceptions and a career-high 23 sacks through 10 games.
Those numbers won’t matter in Tebow’s evaluation, six NFL sources and analysts say, because the most polarizing draft figure in decades can’t solidify his NFL worth until 2010.
“What happens from here on out – whether he wins another national championship or another Heisman Trophy – isn’t going to change what people think about him,” one scout said. “It will be the all-star games, combine and offseason workouts, which is pretty much what everybody was saying when he had these conversations last year.”
Others have drawn stronger conclusions from Tebow’s 2009 performance.
The losses of Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy as bailout options have exposed Tebow’s struggles as a passer, according to Dan Mogollon, president of NFL Draft Bible.
A sports agent who represents a handful of NFL players said Tebow hasn’t been the same since his Sept. 26 concussion, a topic that has been discussed in NFL circles.
Robert Bryant of NFL Draft Dog said Tebow began the year as a late first-rounder on his site but might be a third-rounder now.
“(His senior season) has given scouts more film of him to watch, and the more they watch, the more it becomes obvious that he doesn’t have an NFL caliber arm,” Bryant said.
Staunch Tebow detractor Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN stayed neutral on this topic in a statement released to the Sentinel: “Tebow remains my third highest-rated senior QB, but I will ultimately view him as more of an H-back or TE prospect than a future starting QB in the NFL. I’ll make that change down the road. I still project him to be a second- to fourth-round pick, although I would lean more to the third or fourth round.”
This offseason focused on whether Tebow would tailor his game to the NFL before August. The Gators hired former Detroit Lions quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler – who also worked with Tom Brady and Chad Henne at Michigan – to aid Tebow’s development.
Though the Gators have used a couple of I-formation sets this year, mostly on handoffs, Tebow’s long-wind-up mechanics look the same to most scouts and analysts.
Rang calls Tebow’s two-interception performance against Mississippi State on Oct. 24 “atrocious” because of poor decision-making throughout the game.
“This year he’s just often looked flustered in the pocket,” Rang said. “He doesn’t always look confident. I’m a Tebow backer more than anyone, and his intangibles and leadership are incredible. But he hasn’t helped himself lately.”
Debate hasn’t stopped about what position Tebow should play in the NFL, and Kiper’s not the only one driving the conversation.
Charley Casserly, former Houston Texans executive and now NFL Network analyst, said he would want to work out Tebow at positions other than quarterback.
“I have my doubts,” said Casserly about his quarterbacking. “It’s accuracy. I think he has a big windup … His overall motion release, accuracy, those things he can’t work on because he’s not in a pro-style offense.
A defining game against Alabama or in the national title game could provide momentum for Tebow heading into NFL workouts.
“He could make tens of millions of dollars at the Senior Bowl or lose a lot of money,” said Scott Wright with Draft Countdown.