INDIANAPOLIS -- Tim Tebow was the first big-name quarterback to take the NFL's stage Friday.
He's hoping the draft goes down the same way.
The man with one Heisman Trophy, two national titles and may be the most intriguing pro prospect since Michael Vick, came to the league's annual scouting combine with a new look he hopes will improve his draft stock.
"It's not necessarily changing the whole [throwing] motion, it's where I'm holding the ball," Tebow said. "I'm holding it higher and not having that loop in there. My release point isn't different at all."
The combine seems like old hat for Tebow, too.
He walked to the podium with that charismatic smile and trademark personality, then was introduced as "Some guy named Tebow is at podium C." A few moments later, a reporter asked Tebow to autograph a notebook.
But this week is not about impressing the media or his loyal fans.
Nope, Tebow needs to wow the scouts who think it could take up to two years for him to make the transition from combination college quarterback to prototypical pocket passer. Others argue his success in college, his passion for the game and his work ethic will make the transition easier than it now appears.
Tebow, as usual, has tossed aside conventional wisdom in an effort to show NFL executives what kind of player he is.
"I talked to a lot of different quarterbacks coaches and a lot of people who said 'Wait till after the draft [to change the motion],'" Tebow said. "But I'm not afraid of what anybody thinks. If I need to change it, then I'm going to do it now."
NFL executives will then have two months to make a decision about where Tebow fits into this year's draft.
In the meantime, those people will scramble to answer questions about the other high-profile quarterbacks presumably ahead of Tebow on this year's draft boards.
Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is still recovering from toe surgery. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner, missed all but three games last season with a shoulder injury. Texas' Colt McCoy couldn't finish the national championship game because of an injury to his throwing arm.
My dream is to be an NFL quarterback and I'm going to do whatever it takes to do that. If I'm asked to do something else, I'll do it, because it's always team first.” -- Tim Tebow
All three missed their scheduled media interviews Friday, which in past years has been an indication that players are undergoing additional medical checks. NFL officials could not confirm that happened Friday, saying only that the quarterbacks had "other obligations."
None of the big four, including Tebow, are expected to throw until their pro days next month. Tebow is the only one, so far, who has indicated he will do any of the drills this week.
"You'd love to see them work out here, but for a quarterback this is not the greatest environment," said general manager Billy Devaney, whose Rams have the No. 1 pick in April. "They're out there throwing to receivers they've never thrown to before, they're throwing routes they maybe haven't thrown in college. It's hard to get into a groove when you throw three balls and go to the end of the line and then throw three more."
Trying to make projections is even tougher for talent evaluators because of how different the offenses are.
Clausen played in a prostyle system under Charlie Weis at Notre Dame, which some think give him an advantage. Cleveland's Brady Quinn came out of the same system and still hasn't lived up to the expectations.
McCoy and Bradford played in predominantly passing programs in the high-scoring Big 12, which have translated into mixed results in the NFL.
Tebow rarely played under center at Florida and built his reputation as much on running as passing, something he knows must change against the bigger, stronger, faster players in the NFL.
Who is the best?
Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham and Texas receiver Jordan Shipley each cast votes for the guys they played with in college. Reports have indicated the Rams favor Bradford over Clausen, though Devaney denied that Friday.
And coaches and scouts are still trying to sort things out.
To those looking for a quarterback in the first round, San Francisco general manager Scot McCloughan offers some advice after seeing Alex Smith, the top overall pick in 2005, finally emerge as the player the 49ers expected in 2009.
"If you're going to take a spread quarterback, know that that's what he's used to," McCloughan said. "The reason you're drafting him is because he's been a good football player. Don't completely change what he's done in the past that's made him successful."
Tebow isn't changing everything.
He insists the only real difference is that he's shortened his throwing motion to get rid of the ball quicker -- and he hopes get himself back on the podium come April 22.
"I know wherever I go and whoever drafts me is going to get someone who gives everything to the team, who leaves everything on the field every day," he said. "My dream is to be an NFL quarterback and I'm going to do whatever it takes to do that. If I'm asked to do something else, I'll do it, because it's always team first."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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