With so much time between the end of the college football season and the NFL draft, scouts, experts, and fans have too much time to analyze players, and they tend to focus too heavily on overvalued barometers of their abilities.
By now, everyone realizes that 40-yard dash times can unnecessarily decide a player's draft day fate. A good recent example of this is with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.
Before the NFL Scouting Combine, Davis was considered to be a late first round or early second round pick. There was still some debate about which tight end would be taken first, whether it would be Davis or UCLA's Mercedes Lewis.
Davis ran a 4.38 forty-yard dash, which shot him up draft boards. He wound up going sixth overall. His short career so far has been fairly disappointing, reaching a level of play that one would expect from a mid-round draft pick, not a top-10 prospect.
On the flip side of this, another 49ers player by the name of Jerry Rice fell in the draft because he only posted a 4.71 forty-yard dash time. He is now the all-time leader in every major statistical category for wide receivers.
To a certain extent, almost every ability that players get judged on is overvalued at times. Durability, height, weight, arm strength, running style, Wonderlic score, and even hand size have all been listed as red flags for players coming out of college.
But the most important thing to look at has to be what they did on Saturday afternoons. If they couldn't put it together mentally and go out there and help their team win games, then it doesn't matter how big or fast or strong they are.
The key is to find a good balance between what they do on the tape and what they do in skills tests. If only their college careers mattered, then Eric Crouch and Jason White would be the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
When a special player comes along that has that "It" factor that every team is looking for, he has to be recognized. When a player combines incredible physical abilities with a competitive attitude and an innate ability to lead, it can't go unnoticed.
Tim Tebow is the epitome of this type of player.
A number of negative things have been said about Tebow's abilities and why he won't be able to play at the next level.
His arm strength and accuracy have both been questioned. His ability to have a long career has been questioned because he's taken such a beating in college. Some admit that he'll have a great NFL career, just not as a quarterback. They see him as a tight end or an H-back.
Tim Tebow will be a great quarterback in the NFL. In fact, I wouldn't want to put him at any other position. With his attitude and leadership abilities, I think it would be a waste of talent to put him anywhere else on the field.
The most important thing for Tebow is that he has to be utilized the right way. I will admit that he probably won't ever break the record for touchdown passes thrown in a single season.
With an open-minded coach, however, he could become unstoppable. We got to see what the Dolphins were able to do with just a little bit of innovation.
They didn't necessarily invent the Wildcat formation, as variations of it have been run by high schools and colleges for years. But Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells were able to look at the talent level of their team and devise a scheme that would utilize their players' abilities in the best possible way.
The same thing needs to be done for Tebow. ESPN the Magazine just had a nice article about the lack of offensive innovation in the NFL today and how an offensive revolution is coming. The perfect fit for Tebow may not have even been figured out yet.
The key is that he needs to be under center, calling plays, reading defenses, and yes, throwing the ball. Trying to make Tebow a Chris Cooley-like player is an absolute waste of talent. Tebow needs the ball in his hands every single play.
He faced very similar questions as a high school prospect, and he quieted most of his doubters after an extremely successful career at Florida. He put up very impressive numbers, but more importantly he won games, including one National Championship and potentially another.
There is little doubt in my mind that Tebow should be an early to mid-first round pick when he decides to enter the draft. If his coaches are willing to think outside the box and understand his strengths and utilize them correctly, he will become one of the better signal-callers in the league.
Again, this doesn’t mean he’ll put up prototypical Peyton Manning and Tom Brady-like numbers. But Tebow isn't a prototypical player either. People keep trying to compare him to Vince Young or Alex Smith, but I don't think we've ever seen a player that combines Tebow's size, speed, and throwing ability.
Some team has to look at Tebow and see a prospect who can become one of the most dangerous players in the game, who will take his team on his shoulders and win games, just as he has done his entire career at Florida.