Tue Dec 16 12:27pm EST
Mel Kiper Jr. on Percy Harvin's draft potential:
"He’s not that big, and he’s taken a lot of hits. But his explosiveness after the run is explosive."
Thank you, Mel, thanks. Actually, that bit of redundancy aside, Kiper likes Harvin in his rundown of various Gators' draft hopes for the Orlando Sentinel, assuming "He's like a Reggie Bush" is still a compliment. He likes Tim Tebow, too, but not in the way Tebow is hoping he would:
On why he thinks Tebow should play a different position: "When you watch him play, he's strong as a runner and he's great with the ball. He can be that third quarterback in a wildcat formation. He could be an H back or a tight end, like a Frank Wycheck does in NFL. He gives you that third quarterback, that versatile all-around guy."
On embracing a different position: "If you fight it and say I’m just a quarterback, that’s a different ballgame. That’s why guys don’t go as high. I remember Eric Courch was fighting it for awhile. There was no way Crouch was an NFL quarterback. He was going to have to be a safety. Seemed to me like he was talking too much about being a quarterback."
On Tebow's final projection: "I’d say third or fourth round worst-case scenario, second round as a best case. Probably a third-rounder. That’s assuming his workouts are good."
I'm in no position to disagree with Kiper, who's probably right about as often as you can reasonably expect someone in his position to be right. But we are definitely seeing here the mystifying vaguery that Malcolm Gladwell describes in the latest New Yorker about judging potential pro quarterbacks: The subtle differences in a star and an also-ran almost qualify as voodoo. In the same breath Kiper calls Tebow "one of the greatest college players of all time, top 3-5 of all time," he says flatly, "He's not going to be a first-round pick."
I completely believe him, and also know that I will never be able to be convinced that such a projection makes any sense. Plenty of non-pocket passers have been high draft picks -- off the top of my head, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair and Vince Young all went in the top four picks in the last 15 years -- and all four of those guys had varying degrees of success because of their ability to move around as well as throw on the run (I'll defend Vick as a player until I'm blue in the face). So I'm not sure why the comparison here is to Crouch, who obviously didn't have the size or the arm to be a college quarterback in any system other than Nebraska's option scheme, and had the dismal passing numbers to prove it. Tebow's not Eric Crouch, and he's not Danny Wuerffel, who was smart and accurate but also obviously lacked the size and physical gifts that Tebow seems to possess in abundance. He's not even Chris Weinke, who had the size and dynamic numbers at Florida State but was old and couldn't outrun Gilbert Brown. Hell, a gangly loper like Alex Smith was a No. 1 pick out of the same system Tebow runs, and even primarily college fans thought that was crazy (apparently, only college fans though that was crazy).
Forget about yards, touchdowns, pointless awards, running up the score and the myth that Tebow is just a running quarterback in a college offense: Tebow has NFL size and a first-rate temperament; is extremely mobile (duh); has completed two-thirds of his passes, finished in the top three nationally in touchdown percentage and yards per attempt and put up historically high pass efficiency ratings two years in a row; had the second-lowest interception rate and best TD:INT ratio in the nation this year; and has been consistently deadly on deep throws (as if they still threw deep in the NFL) -- in two years, Florida has completed 65 passes of at least 25 yards, or 2.5 per game. He's led the highest-scoring offense in the SEC two years in a row and is on the verge of winning a second mythical championship in three years. Obviously, his career aspiration is Frank Wycheck.
Again, I completely believe the gurus when they say Tebow won't be a first-round pick. This is their job. It is the most counterintuitive job anywhere. My problem is this: The questions that surround Tebow re: his ability to read defenses and adjust to the pro game apply to every college quarterback making the transition. If Tebow hasn't answered them enough to even project as a quarterback at the next level, then my god, who has?
Update: Coincidentally, Shutdown Corner weighs in on Tebow's NFL prospects, as well as those of Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.