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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Scouts at odds on Tebow's future

They don't have stats for stuff like this, but I think we can safely assume that Tim Tebow is the most talked-about draft prospect in recent memory who isn't ticketed for the top of the first round.

Then again, this isn't your ordinary Heisman Trophy-winning, national championship-winning, Davey O'Brien Award-winning quarterback. But even with all that hardware and all that recognition, the predraft process has been more about what Tebow might not be able to do than what he already has done.

The college awards are all well and good, but NFL scouts are more concerned with Tebow's recently transformed mechanics than with his impressive list of honors. And there is a wide range of opinion about him - from those who believe that with time, he can develop into a terrific NFL quarterback, to those who believe he will be the latest in a long line of NFL flops to come out of the University of Florida.

"It concerns you from the standpoint that you don't know if the change is going to take or not,'' said Jets director of college scouting Joey Clinkscales. "Given his character, his work ethic, you hope that those changes take hold. Now you never know until the first lick happens whether he goes back to that throwing motion.''

Tebow has been criticized by NFL scouts for a looping throwing motion that made him take too long to release the ball. It surely didn't hurt Tebow at the college level, but pro teams need their quarterbacks to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible to avoid the pass rush.

So Tebow set out to adapt his mechanics more to the pro style, and with the help of former NFL coaches Jon Gruden, Sam Wyche and Marc Trestman, he developed a more compact motion in which he held the ball close to shoulder level to ensure a quicker release.

Tebow showed remarkable progress at his Florida pro day last month, leaving many in the NFL personnel community hopeful that he is on the way toward making a smooth transition. No guarantees, though.

"I don't think he'll be able to do it,'' said one scout, who asked that his name not be used. "His skill set just doesn't convert to the NFL. He's a great athlete and he has great heart, but I don't think he can make the leap."

Thus, the uncertainty about just where Tebow will go in this week's draft. We've heard anything from late first round to the middle of the third round. But regardless of where he goes, this much is certain: Enough teams are interested in Tebow's upside to make a substantial investment in his future.

Among the teams interested: the Patriots, Bills, Dolphins, Browns, Broncos, Vikings, Eagles and Seahawks.

"It's really hard to change, particularly in pressure situations,'' said Browns president Mike Holmgren, who enjoyed great success developing quarterbacks Steve Young, Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck. "Do you want Tim Tebow on your football team? Absolutely, you need guys like that. It's an ongoing study that will go right up to the draft for us.''

Said Clinkscales: "Given all the hard work and effort he's put into it, he has a chance to be successful. I wouldn't bet against him.''

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