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Just The Sports: NFL Quarterback Draft Prospect: Tim Tebow

Just The Sports

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NFL Quarterback Draft Prospect: Tim Tebow

The only way to truly understand Tim Tebow's future as an NFL quarterback is to examine the context of what he accomplished in college football for the University of Florida. Forget forever his leadership, work ethic, poor mechanics, Heisman trophy, and BCS Championship. None of those things are important and will certainly not be taken into consideration in this post. What is important is Alex Smith's career as a quarterback for the University of Utah. How Alex Smith relates to Tim Tebow is pretty simple.

Both Smith and Tebow played for Urban Meyer in his option-run based offensive system. By now, most college football observers should be able to recognize that Meyer's unique offense is a bit of a gimmicky one, meaning that the system is far more important than the quarterback who is playing in it. As I have explained before when discussing Mike Leach's quarterbacks or Hawaii's quarterbacks under June Jones or BYU quarterbacks John Beck and Max Hall, for multiple quarterbacks who play under the same unique offensive system to be considered special, they must vastly outperform the other quarterbacks. Putting up similar numbers only indicates the quarterback is secondary to the gimmicky offense. Unfortunately for Tim Tebow, he did not significantly outperform Alex Smith. Since Alex Smith himself has struggled so mightily in the NFL, one can make a pretty safe prediction that Tebow will fare no better.

Alex Smith played under Urban Meyer from 2003-04 and was very prolific under Meyer's tutelage as it seems that most quarterbacks will be. For his career under Meyer, Smith completed 66.3% of his passes for 8.9 yards per pass attempt; Tebow completed 66.6% of his passes for 9.4 yards per pass attempt. The statistics of the two quarterbacks are so similar the only conclusion that can be drawn is that Meyer is running a quarterback-friendly system where any decent quarterback who plays for him will put up astounding numbers.

The only reason Smith was able to turn his college career into a #1 overall draft selection is the same reason why Tim Couch was able to do so; they were the first really famous quarterbacks under offensive geniuses. Smith played under Urban Meyer and Couch played under Mike Leach. Now that we know better, or at least we should know better, we should no longer overrate Meyer quarterbacks just like we no longer overrate quarterbacks who played under Mike Leach.

Yet, despite the fact of how simple it is to understand context when it comes to unique offenses, there are many who still fail to do so. One of the most recent examples of a failure to comprehend what makes a college quarterback into a good NFL one is's Kerry J. Byrne.

The first mistake Byrne makes in the premise of his article is to fail to understand the way in which Meyer's offensive system inflates quarterbacks' numbers; therefore, the only quarterback Tebow can be compared to is someone who also played in a similar offense. Otherwise, his numbers look incredibly more prolific than they already are. The second analytical crime Byrne makes is to compare him to, outside of Peyton Manning, quarterbacks who never deserved to be #1 overall draft picks to begin with. No great talent need exist for Tebow to be better than some of the most overrated quarterbacks to ever be drafted. Once again, Byrne shows his limited understanding of context.

Nothing Tim Tebow does between now and the draft will change the fact he is just the latest run-of-the-mill Meyer quarterback. As the seasons go along and future quarterbacks continue to churn out passing numbers equal to what Tim Tebow put up, it will finally be recognized that Meyer's offense made Tebow and not the other way around. Until then, I am certain an NFL team will imagine itself smarter than everyone else, draft Tebow, and end up disappointed.



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