NFL Combine: Tebow impresses at combine amid debate on his future
By JIM CORBETT
INDIANAPOLIS - At the conclusion of his Feb. 26 NFL scouting combine news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tim Tebow told an estimated 100 news media members, easily the largest gathering attracted by any of the 300-plus players, “Thank you all, God bless.”
Then, the former Florida star gathered the digital recorders stacked atop his podium riser and handed them back to reporters one by one.
The 15-minute session came full circle from the beginning when a reporter playfully asked if Tebow would mind taking his notes.
Tebow grabbed his pad and scribbled, “God bless. Tim Tebow.” Then the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, who helped the Gators to two national championships, handed it back.
The only thing Tebow couldn’t do at the combine was answer the biggest question personnel evaluators from 32 teams have about arguably the biggest star of the 2010 draft crop: Is Tebow a franchise quarterback?
“My dream is to be a quarterback,” Tebow said. “And I’m going to pursue that as much as I can. I want to be a quarterback in the NFL. It’s been my dream since I was 6.
“If I’m on a team that asks me to help in some other way . . . I would do whatever you wanted me to do, and do it with all my heart.”
Tebow put on a show. His vertical jump of 38 1/2 inches tied Carolina Panthers backup Josh McCown for best of any quarterback in combine history.
The 6-2 3/4, 236-pound quarterback with 88 career touchdowns clocked a 4.72-second 40-yard dash.
As with the other top quarterbacks, Tebow declined to throw. He will wait to unveil his revamped, Tebow 2.0 throwing release until his March 17 pro day.
He called his quicker, more compact release “more like a tweak” than an overhaul of the elongated throwing motion that drew criticism at the Senior Bowl.
One problem: There won’t be any blitzing linebackers bearing down during his pro day.
“Tebow is never going to look like Sam Bradford, that classic passer,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said, referencing the Oklahoma quarterback who could be the top overall pick. “But can you modify him to the point where those changes stick under pressure?
“It’s one thing to go out on your pro day and throw. It’s another thing when you’re facing an overload blitz from the Pittsburgh Steelers and you’re trying to get rid of the football to your hot-read receiver.”
Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is intrigued.
“He’s an interesting guy,” Whisenhunt said. “The one thing you can’t overlook is he has been very successful in college football. He’s won a lot of games.”
The Cardinals have one quarterback on their roster, disappointing former Heisman winner Matt Leinart, following Kurt Warner’s retirement.
Whisenhunt is an innovative gadget guy who deployed safety Antrel Rolle and wide receiver Anquan Boldin in a Wildcat role.
“If you had him (Tebow) available and you weren’t scared of losing him because of how physical he plays, there are definitely some things you could do,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve done things with Antrel and other players, so we’re not opposed to that.”
Mayock said the team that drafts Tebow should be prepared to “redshirt” him for two or three years, allowing him time to develop.
“Here’s my deal on Tim Tebow: arguably the best quarterback that ever played, arguably the best football player that played college football,” Mayock said. “I’m going to bet on him because of his intangibles.
“This kid’s got a lot of work to do before he’s an NFL quar terback. But if you’re going to take a bet on anybody, why not this kid?”