Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Peter King talks Tebow and the Draft

When Peter King talks Tebow, people listen. The last time King talked Tebow, web traffic spiked. Below is what he had to say this time.

The NFL Draft's a month from today, and this weekend has proven one thing to me: Tim Tebow's going higher than we thought he would.

Even after Tebow performed with much-improved mechanics in his on-campus pro day Wednesday in Gainesville, I thought it might be good enough to get him into the second round, but who wanted to spend a second-rounder in a very deep draft on a guy you might need to redshirt for two years?

But something interesting has happened this weekend. Most agents are happy to tell you where their client will be visiting before the draft and which teams he'll be working out for. A top player is usually happy to talk about a conversation he had with Bill Belichick or advice he got on how to throw the ball from Mike Holmgren. Not Tebow's agent Jimmy Sexton over the weekend. And not Tebow. Both said they'd like to keep the opinions from the teams to themselves, and they'd like to keep which teams are interested to themselves, partly because the teams had requested as much.

Of course, it's an open secret that Washington coach Mike Shanahan worked out Tebow in Gainesville on Saturday, and that Cleveland, Seattle, New England and Buffalo will either do so or already have. But you won't get that from the Tebow camp.

What this tells me is teams interested in Tebow don't want the other teams interested in Tebow to know how interested they are. If, for instance, the Seahawks want to add Tebow to the Matt Hasselbeck/Charlie Whitehurst stable and they hold the 60th overall pick in Round 2 (which I now think will be too low for Tebow), they don't want to telegraph their interest in case they plan to try to move into the 40s to get him. With New England having three picks in the second round (44, 47, 53), the Patriots could be in prime position to take Tebow and groom him as either a long-term replacement for Tom Brady (I don't buy that, with Brady wanting to play eight more years) or as a durable, versatile offensive weapon who could play multiple positions.

I now think Tebow's going in the 28 to 45 range, to a team willing to be patient with him at quarterback and maybe to allow him to help the team in other ways immediately. That's how much he helped himself with the aggressive remaking of his throwing motion at his workout Wednesday.

"I got a lot of slack out of my motion,'' he told me Sunday night. "I'm holding it higher, releasing it quicker. It's kind of like in golf, not going back as far on your backswing. I'm not going back as far with my arm, but I don't feel I'm losing any power or any accuracy when I throw.''

I asked Tebow if he thought he'd be a first-round pick, and there was a long pause.

"Heh-heh,'' he said, chuckling a little uncomfortably. "Not sure. Good question. I believe with all my heart that I'll be an NFL quarterback, but who takes me, and where, I don't know.''

The draft is a month from today. For the next 24 days, Tebow can work out for teams in Gainesville or visit teams for interviews at their facilities. He said he may do another workout for teams in Gainesville. And he said he hasn't decided whether to accept the NFL's invitation to attend the draft in New York -- though he sounded like he wouldn't.

"I've got to figure out what will be more fun for me and best for my family,'' he said. "But I have to say I liked what [Cleveland tackle] Joe Thomas did on the day of the draft a couple of years ago -- he went fishing with his dad.''

If I were him, I'd stay as far away from New York as I could on draft day. If he gets picked low in the first round, the cameras of ESPN and NFL Network will be on him all night. And if he goes undrafted through the first round, all day Friday -- rounds two and three are scheduled for Friday the 23rd -- will be Tim Tebow Watch. But Tebow's life has changed for the better since a lousy Senior Bowl, and he might have done enough to make quarterback-needy teams face a tough decision a month from now.