Stats Don't Lie: Tim Tebow Is a Better Downfield Passer Than Sam Bradford

Nick The OnlyAnalyst IJanuary 6, 2009

There is perception.

And there is reality.

The perception is that Sam Bradford is a do-it-all NFL prototype passer, while Tim Tebow is just a fullback who gets by as a college passer.

The reality is that Tebow, by every statistical measure, is a better downfield passer than Bradford. On passes of 15 yards of more, Tebow had a higher completion percentage, as well as more yards and touchdowns per attempt.

Tebow was better in the turnover department, too. Bradford was intercepted four times on 15-plus-yard passes to Tebow's one interception on similar throws. (Both had 15 "long" touchdown passes).

Bradford threw deep about one more time per game, which is not a lot considering he averaged around 10 more total attempts per game. While Bradford threw a lot more total passes than Tebow, he did not throw many more long passes than Tebow. In fact, Bradford only completed one more long pass than Tebow despite Bradford's 14 additional attempts (Bradford threw 160 more short passes than Tebow). 

Relatively speaking, Tebow threw deep far more often than Bradford. Tebow went long on nearly a third of his passes. Bradford went long on around a fifth of his throws. 

Nearly fifty percent (yes, 50 percent!) of Tebow's passing yards came on throws of 15 yards or more.

Some doubters may argue that Tebow benefits from speedy playmakers who turn five-yard slants into 50-yard gains. That is just perception. In reality, Bradford's receivers (especially his tight end, Jermaine Gresham) gain a larger percentage of their receiving yards after the catch than Tebow's receivers.

Bradford's receivers gained 54 percent of their yards after the catch. Florida's receivers gained only 42 percent of their yards after the catch.

Perception can be funny a thing. We all see Bradford lighting up scoreboards and throwing 30-to-50 times a game. We hear draft gurus praise Bradford as a top 10 pick because he makes "all the throws."

We see Tebow bulldozing linebackers so often that we forget that he throws pretty well, too. We hear draft experts claim that Tebow will be drafted as a utility player (fullback or tight end) rather than a quarterback.

Yet, when we look at reality, Tebow is a far better passer when it comes to throwing the deep ball. And don't NFL scouts love a quarterback who can effectively stretch the field?

Just some food for thought.