Tip Sheet: Tebow impresses Herock
'He walks into a room and he just energizes it,' longtime talent evaluator says
But never has Herock -- a longtime talent evaluator who spent most of his 40 seasons in the league as a personnel director or general manager -- encountered a product like Florida QB Tim Tebow.
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In an unsolicited phone call to ESPN.com earlier this week, Herock, who worked with Tebow for several hours, uncharacteristically gushed about the Gators' star.
"He's by far the best [prospect] with whom I've ever worked," said Herock, who operates "Pro Prep," a popular service that simulates a combine interview and familiarizes players on the subjects with which they will be confronted by league scouts. "He walks into a room and he just energizes it. Whatever 'it' is, he's definitely got 'it.' Even for a guy like me, who's done this for so long, you almost get goosebumps."
The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, and one of the most celebrated players in recent college history, Tebow has received decidedly mixed predictions about his NFL future from critics evaluating the 2010 talent pool. Most rate him behind at least two quarterback prospects, Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, and some have him rated even with Colt McCoy of Texas. Citing his low delivery and an elongated release, critics contend that Tebow lacks the physical skills that will make him a first-round selection.
Others suggest Tebow must play another position -- fullback, H-back or perhaps linebacker or safety -- in the NFL. It conjures up memories of 2001 Heisman winner Eric Crouch of Nebraska, a college quarterback drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round in 2002 as a wide receiver. He failed to make it at that position or at safety.
The four-hour tutorial designed by Herock doesn't necessarily deal with a player's athletic skills. But Herock has long believed that a top-flight quarterback is necessary to win in the NFL, and during his league career, he drafted prominent passers such as Doug Williams, Steve Young, Chris Miller and Brett Favre. He has an estimable track record at the game's most difficult position. This week he took some time out to watch and evaluate Tebow on the practice field.
Tebow is working on his physical skills with former NFL quarterback Zeke Bratkowski. Onetime NFL quarterbacks coach Marc Trestman, currently head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, has worked some with Tebow at the blackboard on the mental part and X's and O's of the game. After playing in coach Urban Meyer's spread offense, in which the quarterback is almost never directly under center, Tebow has been working on taking the snap more conventionally.
Herock believes Tebow is making solid progress in addressing what are generally perceived as his physical shortcomings, and noted that his intangibles are hard to ignore.
Said Herock: "His release might be a little low at this point, but a lot of people talked about Philip Rivers' delivery too before he was drafted, and look at what he's done. I've heard all the supposed [negatives]. But I watched [Tebow] on the field and his velocity is good enough, and so is his accuracy. As far as his learning, you don't have to tell him anything twice. And he's a student of the game. I recommended that he watch some tapes of Steve Young, and he said, 'Oh, I've already done that.' He wants to be good. He wants to succeed. And he will succeed."
In some ways, Herock said, Tebow reminds him of Favre, whom he took in the second round of the 1991 draft in Atlanta. The Florida star probably doesn't have Favre's brashness, noted Herock, but his presence is beyond charismatic.
"I've seen him on TV and heard all the stuff about him, and you think to yourself, 'It's too good to be all be true,'" Herock said. "But there is nothing phony about him at all. He's about as genuine as you can get. If there was one word I would use to describe him, it would be 'winner.'
"People will have to convince me he's not a quarterback and that he won't succeed."
His critics aside, Tim Tebow will probably play quarterback in the NFL. There are, however, some franchises that might try the University of Florida star at a different position. Here are some former college quarterbacks who switched positions in the NFL in recent seasons and experienced mixed results:
Len Pasquarelli, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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