When the Florida Gators destroyed the Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday night in the Sugar Bowl, the biggest losers might have been the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jags are widely believed to be interested in Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, thanks to an owner who apparently has never played poker. But the Jags likely will be making their initial pick at some point between the 15th and 20th positions in round one of the draft. And recent history tells us that huge quarterback performances in BCS bowl games will drive a guy’s stock through the roof — and that poor performances will cause a guy to slide.
It’s a curious dynamic in a process dominated by tangible measurements and Pro Day workouts. With a stellar showing in the Sugar Bowl capping that 2006 season, LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell shot all the way to the top of the board. A year earlier, Vince Young’s performance for the ages in the BCS title game pushed him all the way to No. 3.
Likewise, a horrendous night for Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in the 2006 BCS championship (due in large part to the fact that multiple Florida defensive lineman were unblocked for most of the night) resulted in a free fall all the way to round five. Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn’s lackluster college finale against LSU in the same Sugar Bowl that saw Russell shoot up likely fueled Quinn’s drop into the 20s.
On Friday night, Tebow generated 533 yards in a 51-24 rout of the previously undefeated Bearcats, completing 31 of 35 passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns.
So while FOX’s Brian Billick explained one of Tebow’s primary flaws — a catapult-style release that involves Tebow swooping the ball down to thigh level, where it will be more easily knocked out of his hands by the likes of Dwight Freeney, Jared Allen, and Elvis Dumvervil — scouts will pay less attention to the flaws and more attention to the fireworks.
But it makes no sense to ignore mechanical deficiencies that could make Tebow into another Byron Leftwich. (Still, Leftwich was drafted in the top ten, and he never had a game like Tebow had on Friday night.)
Then there’s the reality that Tebow seems to be the kind of guy who can be molded into a better quarterback, a guy who’ll respond to coaching aimed at making him the best possible player he can be.
So while it’s easy to pick apart things that he will concern folks at the next level, the reality is that Tebow is a proven winner, an obvious leader of men, and he capped one of the greatest careers in college football history by putting up even bigger numbers than Vince Young four years ago.
In other words, if the Jaguars want Tebow, the Jaguars are gonna have to trade up to get him.