As the NFL Draft Combine continues on, one notable draft prospect is not competing in any drills. Rather than showing off to scouts at the Combine, the most celebrated college football athlete of the decade is waiting till his Pro Day at Florida. Tim Tebow is determined not to change positions, and prove that he can be an effective quarterback at the pro level. Perhaps if that is indeed Tebow’s goal, he should heavily consider other options besides the NFL, in order to refine his skills as a pro quarterback.
Tebow’s heart is set on proving that he can be an effective quarterback at the next level. Despite all his critics, the kid has the determination to make it happen. Does Tebow not remind some of QB Shane Falco from the movie The Replacements? Left handed quarterback, college star, didn’t make it to the pros, but as coach Jimmy McGinity says about Falco in the movie, Tebow has lots and lots of heart, love him or hate him. Tebow may not have the luxury of coming in as a replacement player like Falco was scripted in the movie, but Tebow does have other options to improve, get playing time, and perhaps one day star in the NFL besides entering this year’s draft. Perhaps Tebow should seriously consider either playing in Canada in the CFL, or staying here in the states and playing with the UFL in their second season of play. Playing elsewhere out of college is not an uncommon occurrence, and many have done so and then gone on to have effective to great careers in the NFL.
Some of the greatest quarterbacks to find NFL success after starting their careers outside of the NFL include Warren Moon, Kurt Warner, and Doug Flutie. Moon is perhaps the greatest example out of the three, having achieved great success in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos taking them to an unprecedented five straight Grey Cup Championships. Moon was a Hall of Fame quarterback in his six seasons up north, and then came back to the states to achieve similar success, despite failing to ever win a Super Bowl. Moon is second on the all-time career passing yardage leaders list when accounting statistics from the NFL, CFL, and USFL with 49,325 passing yards, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 in large part to his success throughout his entire professional career. An argument can also be made for recently retired Kurt Warner as the greatest quarterback to find NFL success after he achieved success with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. Warner exploded onto the NFL scene in 1999 after taking over for an injured Trent Green, leading the St. Louis Rams to their first Super Bowl. Warner is a two time NFL MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, and Super Bowl winner in Super Bowl XXIV, and owns the Super Bowl record for the three highest passing yardage performances. With 32,344 passing yards in the NFL, Warner is open to the debate as a Hall of Fame quarterback when his time comes in five more years. And then there is Doug Flutie, who owns one of the most memorable plays in college football history with a last minute Hail Mary at Boston College in 1984. Out of college Flutie played in the USFL for the New Jersey Generals, but ultimately achieved success in the CFL as one of the league’s most celebrated players of all-time with six CFL Most Outstanding Player Awards, 3 Grey Cup Championships, and 3 Grey Cup MVP’s. Upon returning to the NFL as a starter in 1998 Flutie became the Comeback Player of the Year. Flutie did not achieve the NFL success of Moon or Warner, in large part because of his age upon returning to the NFL. But Flutie ranks fifth on the aforementioned all-time passing yardage list, and is also a CFL Hall of Fame quarterback.
But perhaps comparing Tebow to some of these all-time greats is a bit premature. Others that have done the same include Tebow critic Joe Theisman, Jeff Garcia, and to an even lesser extent Tommy Maddox. Out of college Theisman chose to go to Canada where he was a two-time CFL All-Star with the Toronto Argonauts, before coming to the NFL to play twelve seasons with the Washington Redskins. Theisman led the Redskins to two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XVII, was the NFL MVP in 1983, and holds several Redskins passing records including passing attempts, completions, and yardage. After going undrafted out of college, Jeff Garcia went to the CFL where he played five seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. Garcia was a four-time CFL All-Star, and Grey Cup MVP in a Grey Cup victory in 1998. Garcia then went on to achieve success in the NFL, playing for multiple teams over a ten-year span, most famously the San Francisco 49ers where Garcia was a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Tommy Maddox achieved his success outside of the NFL in his one season with the XFL with the Los Angeles Xtreme. For what it’s worth, Maddox was the XFL MVP and lead his team to the XFL Championship in the league’s only year of existence. From there Maddox went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he was the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2002, and enjoyed moderate success as a starter for the better part of two seasons. Perhaps when setting up a standard for Tebow, Maddox may be the best standard to start with.
The decision is ultimately up to Tebow. Go straight to the NFL to presumably become a backup at best, perhaps even a third string quarterback or change positions if he wants to try and crack a starting lineup. Rookie Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots is the most recent example of a college quarterback finding success in the NFL after changing positions, playing wide receiver for the Pats in 2009. Tebow could still be drafted, as Heisman was a fourth round draft pick before deciding to first play in the CFL. But if Tebow truly wants to be a starter, he should consider improving on his mechanics and trying to achieve success elsewhere first, where the opportunities may be more plentiful. With the UFL's plans to continue on and expand in 2010, and a team in Orlando, a short drive from where Tebow is a hero in Gainsville, Tebow could become a star and the face of the league if he found success there. And with the NFLPA urging players cut and unable to find employment in the NFL to go to the UFL, Tebow may be urged by some to go there first. Who knows, with his determination he could very well do so, and in a few years hush all the critics who knock him for his lack of mechanics and the label of a “just a college quarterback.”