Arts & Entertainment

Picking Splinters: First Mailbag Deliver 2009

Did Tim Tebow really have to damn us to another year of hearing college football announcers gush like they’re describing their first true love?

Shouldn’t he have gone to the NFL and collected a giant paycheck?

Steve S.

It’s tough to say that Tim Tebow made the wrong decision going back to college. He’s already one of the greatest college players in history, he’s a king in that world and he’ll have a very good shot at defending the Gators’ national title next year. That said, the conventional wisdom of the NFL draft says that he would not have been a first round pick because he does not fit the traditional mold of a quarterback like Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford does.

To that end, the thinking now is that Tebow would have had to shift positions to tight end or fullback and project picks are seldom made in the first round or even the second. But three things could change next season that would drastically improve Tebow’s draft stock.

The first is Florida’s offense. With Urban Meyer at the helm, it’s doubtful that the spread offense is going anywhere (and with two national titles in three years, why would it?). However, there might be some sentiment to try and feature Tebow a little more as a true pocket passer.

It’s to Florida’s benefit to get Tebow taken as high as possible in the draft since it will prove to incoming quarterback recruits that running the spread won’t kill their chances in the NFL. After former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith, Meyer’s QB at Utah, flamed out spectacularly, there are likely some doubts as to whether QBs that succeed in the spread can succeed in the NFL. Perhaps after another year in Florida, and another year throwing the ball effectively, teams will be more convinced of Tebow’s worth as a passer. Of course, they probably should be already.

ESPN Insider did a study leading up to the BCS Title game that compared Tebow and Bradford. It found that when it came to deep passes, Bradford and Tebow were equally accurate, albeit with fewer attempts by Tebow. When the BCS Title game rolled around, Tebow put some critical passes into his receivers’ arms with the precision of a laser surgeon. If NFL scouts realize that Tebow can be an accurate passer and not just a force while carrying the ball, that’s a second thing that will improve his draft stock.

Finally, the revelation of the Wildcat formation could also boost up Tebow. This year, teams in the NFL like the Dolphins and Browns decided to resurrect what was thought to be an outdated offensive scheme that put the ball in the hands of a running back or wide receiver instead of a quarterback. The scheme itself bears some similarities to the spread offense, and athletes like Tebow and West Virginia’s Pat White would be ideally suited for it.

While the Wildcat was successful, it remains to be seen if it will stick in teams’ playbooks or if it was just a fad of the 2008 season. If teams can successfully utilize it for another year and show it has staying power, Tebow could receive another boost.

And all three of those reasons don’t even mention factors like getting your degree and that college is far more fun than the working world. And I hear that the scenery down in Gainesville isn’t too hard on the eyes.

Good call, Mike. I loved the campus in Gainesville.

Jesse P.

Campus? Who’s talking about the campus?

Should the Giants bring back Plaxico Burress? If so, should the NRA at least teach him the virtues of denim pants?

Charleton H.

Plax apparently has the votes from his teammates to return. Of course, those criminal charges following his “Is that a gun in your pants or are you just happy to see me? Huh, that’s definitely a gun in your pants” moment in New York aren’t going away. I’d let him go, but they need a replacement plan before they do.

There are a lot of free agent WRs out there, and it’s hard to see the Giants gambling that he’ll be a free man. I think the Giants will snag a receiver in the draft and then see how the cards call on the criminal charges. And don’t forget that the NFL could still weigh in on this too.