Tebow to unveil new delivery at pro day
Tim Tebow is, essentially, painting over the masterpiece he created at the University of Florida.
In an effort to quiet his critics and refine his game, Tebow is changing the way he holds a football, shifting it from his waist to his shoulder. He is concentrating on taking three- and five-step drops instead of working out of the shotgun formation he used at Florida.
He will not unveil Tebow 2.0 at this week's scouting combine in Indianapolis, preferring instead to wait for his pro day at the University of Florida on March 17.
But until then, he will continue working on improving his fundamentals in an effort to improve his draft position and his game.
"I'm not changing who I am or how I approach football," Tebow said Sunday night from Nashville, Tenn., where he has been busy remaking the style that was good enough to win one Heisman Trophy and two national championships at Florida.
"But there are things that I can get a lot better at -- my fundamentals. I've never been asked to shorten or quicken my release and not have a loop in it. The changes I'm making have gone very well and it's becoming more and more natural to me."
Asked if he would have embarked on such an extensive and exhausting process had his performance at the Senior Bowl not been so roundly criticized, Tebow said: "Probably, just because of the quarterback coaches I've been working with. I want to get better. I want to be around people who will push me. I will do anything to get better. Without hearing the criticism, I would have done it.
"It's made me more confident, more accurate. And that's not to say I haven't had this type of coaching in the past. I just have had different coaching than this NFL style."
Tebow has been tutored in a pro-style way by working with a coaching team that includes former NFL offensive coordinator Zeke Bratkowski, Montreal Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman, Arizona State's new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and former NFL head coach Sam Wyche.
Bratkowski has concentrated on getting Tebow to raise the football to where it now does not dip lower than his shoulder. The delivery that allowed Tebow to complete over 67 percent of his passes at Florida but the one that also was roundly questioned during and after the Senior Bowl has begun to be made over at the pre-draft workouts in Nashville.
Much of the work has started with Tebow's feet, which were accustomed to working out of a shotgun offense. Bratkowski and others have drilled Tebow on the requisite footwork that he will need to become a successful NFL quarterback.
You're not looking at the same quarterback. To say we're there 100 percent where we want to be, no. But we'll be more improved come pro day.” -- Former NFL offensive coordinator Zeke Bratkowski, part of the coaching team tutoring Tim Tebow
Anyone who has seen Tebow has noticed the difference -- already.
"You're not looking at the same quarterback," said Bratkowski, who has worked with quarterbacks such as San Diego's Philip Rivers, Philadelphia's Michael Vick and Boomer Esiason. "To say we're there 100 percent where we want to be, no. But we'll be more improved come pro day than we are at this point in time now."
Tebow still will attend this week's combine, go through his medical tests, meet with coaches, and do everything but throw. Then he will return to Gainesville to further work on upgrading his fundamentals with Bratkowski and others so that Tebow will not revert back to his old ways during his upcoming workouts.
"That's the reason we're trying to rep it and rep it and rep it," Bratkowski said. Those who have seen Tebow's new delivery believe it is noticeably quicker.
"The ball is coming out a lot faster now," Trestman said. Yet what most impressed Trestman about Tebow was not the quarterback's adaptability but his mental capacity.
"His intelligence level is as high as any quarterback I've encountered coming out of college," Trestman said. "His intelligence is off the charts. After spending time with Tim, it was evident that he learned a lot of football in his four years at Florida -- a lot.
"As a result he has been able to quickly adapt and make corrections in his throwing motion and footwork that will allow him to get the ball out faster and improve his accuracy. He has more than enough arm strength and shown he can make all the throws at the next level. He has only been at it for a few weeks so I can only anticipate he will continue to improve."
Bratkowski said the coaches learn more from Tebow than he learns from them. His intelligence has enabled him to grasp what the coaches are trying to teach.
Many, including ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, questioned how Tebow's delivery would translate at the NFL level.
Other quarterbacks have tried a similar approach, achieving mixed results. From the time he left Tennessee and arrived in Indianapolis, quarterback Peyton Manning changed and perfected his delivery. Former No. 1 overall pick David Carr once changed his, but never managed to make it consistently work.
Other high-profile athletes in other sports have changed their game, as well. Through the years, Tiger Woods has changed his golf swing on multiple occasions. Now Tebow is waging a similar battle, trying to upgrade his fundamentals in time for his NFL pro day, so teams can be impressed enough with him to draft him higher than they currently have him slotted.
"Things like this are challenges for him," Bratkowski said. "He doesn't have rabbit ears, but he knows what people are saying and he hears it -- and that motivates him. He is working hard to make sure what he is doing now is something he can showcase later."
Tebow does not plan to wait long.
"I've done this several thousand times," Tebow said. "With continued work, I will have this down pat by minicamp. It will be like second nature. It's not like it feels awkward to me now. I'm excited about the changes I've made."
Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider.