The Jacksonville Jaguars recently held a tryout for a franchise quarterback and it had nothing to do with Trevor Lawrence.
They worked out Tim Tebow – as a “tight end.”
From the first time I saw him play for the Florida Gators, there was just something about him that stood out to me. It was something that deeply resonated with me. It was the “it” factor. It was something most people – most scouts – and most NFL executives could not even see. Tebow did not fit any mold, therefore few could see how he could or would fit.
I’ll never forget when I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker on the expert scouting panel for Sports Management Worldwide at the Scouting Combine the year Tebow was in the draft. All the others on the panel said, “He’s a tight end or he’s an h-back. I leaned into the microphone in my suit and tie in front of an auditorium full of people at the Hyatt and said, “Tim Tebow is a franchise starting quarterback in the NFL. He was 48-7 at Florida. He’s a winner. He’s not textbook, that’s why a lot of scouts are going to miss on him.”
Apparently, Bill Belichick’s protege, Josh McDaniels agreed. Denver selected Tebow 25 overall in the first round (2011) and eventually – Tebow rose to the occasion. Tebow always rises to the occasion in football. He did it in high school and he did it in college. He did it again taking over for a floundering Kyle Orton when Denver was 1-3 in 2011. Tebow did his thing and God did His thing in and through Tebow. The result was “Tebowing” caught on around the globe and a bunch of NFL defenses who could not figure him out or stop him, which made him one hell of a threat to the establishment. Everyone liked to say Tebow could not throw, but do not tell that to the grandfather of NFL defenses, Dick LeBeau. Tebow laced one in perfectly against LeBeau’s vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense in a Wildcard playoff victory.
From there, John Elway ran him out of the city “John had built,” the Jets did what they could to get the national narrative going again that Tebow was not an NFL QB. The Patriots and Eagles chipped in by cutting him two different years in the preseason despite the fact Tebow shined in those games.
A couple teams suggested maybe Tebow could switch positions, but he was not open to the idea at the time.
My friend Marc Trestman got the Bears head coaching job and I suggested he bring in Tebow as a “running back” (RB) in what I called “The Two-Headed Monster Package.” QB Jay Cutler and him could alternate between playing QB and RB. I thought the package would cause havoc in a league full of cookie-cutter schemes. Imagine…Cutler takes the snap, pitches it to Tebow, Tebow runs to the edge and …
If the corner comes up, Tebow throws. If the corner drops into coverage, Tebow runs.
My offensive system never materialized in Chicago, but it was cool to see variations of a “Two QB” system develop a couple years later without my input in New Orleans and Baltimore.
The next time Tebow’s name came up in the NFL was in 2017. I had a very vivid dream I was the General Manager (GM) of the Cleveland Browns. I woke up and the Holy Spirit told me to send a letter to the owner of the Cleveland Browns and tell him, “If given the opportunity you can put together a Hall of Fame staff within three weeks and send him a copy of your book.” I did so – and three weeks later, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam responded in a hand signed letter asking me for my ideas. The letter was also written on his personal stationary.
In my 166-page GM proposal I said I wanted to make Tebow my undisputed franchise starting QB. I also proposed to make Tebow my assistant GM, making him the first dual-role player/front office executive in NFL history. I did not get the job in Cleveland and Tebow started playing baseball and that is when I came face to face with him.
In 2019, when I interviewed with the Redskins and Team President Bruce Allen asked me for my ideas, I handed him a proposal and in that proposal I suggested bringing Tebow into Washington as “a relief QB.” The revolutionary concept was like having a relief pitcher in baseball – only bring him in when Washington was way behind and preferably in the 4th quarter when he shines the brightest. Tebow was always great in these situations. He sure was in Denver.
Yesterday, I was really happy – not because it was draft day, but because Tebow got a try-out with Jacksonville (and there is said to be significant interest on both sides). Despite the super goofy and contorted looked on Ian Rapoport’s face (that he tried super hard to make) when he was reporting about Tebow getting a try-out again in the NFL
However, instantly I could see the brilliance of Urban Meyer. Tebow makes one heck of a mentor. However, this could go way deeper than that. The NFL is all about creating mismatches and having a “tight end” who can run and pass certainly could create significant problems for defenses to adjust to – and if God has anything to say about it, Tebow could find himself under center again since he is finally willing to humble himself enough.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.
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