MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Chicago Bears decided to do something once unthinkable just a few months ago, give former number one overall pick JaMarcus Russell a tryout. But while Russell may get a new contract, the legend that is Tim Tebow remains stuck in neutral.
Both players were first-round picks just a few years ago. Both dominated in the Southeastern Conference, which is arguably the closest to professional football of any conference in college football. Russell was the top pick while Tebow was picked later in the first round a few years later.
Personality-wise, the two players couldn’t be any more opposite. Russell’s personal life went up in flames that ended with him being arrested for possession of codeine syrup, but he was never indicted by a grand jury.
Tebow, off the field, has been the kind of person most parents dream of their daughter bringing home. He’s donated much of his time to issues he believes in and has stayed out of trouble off the field.
Still, if Russell has indeed lost all the weight he gained and is down to a more athletic 265 pounds, he could have a job in the NFL far before Tebow.
Russell has the measurable at 6’6” and 265 pounds along with a cannon for an arm that once made scouts drool at the possibilities of him in an NFL uniform. Tebow is a classic system quarterback with an average arm who has to have his offense to succeed at a high level.
An NFL source summed it up thusly for Fox Sports’ Peter Schraeger, ““The answer’s easy. Russell has two things you can’t teach that teams actually want — an incredible arm and great NFL size. Tim Tebow has neither.”
But how much is a great arm worth if the numbers don’t back up the claims?
Tebow has an 8-6 record overall as a starter with a completion percentage of 47.3. The former Florida Gator has thrown for 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions in his career and has a respectable quarterback rating of 75.3 over his three year career.
Russell was 7-18 for his three year career with a completion percentage of 52.1. Russell threw 18 touchdowns to 23 interceptions and had a career quarterback rating of 65.2.
One interesting number between the two players over their respective three year careers is that in the season they were sacked the most, 2009 for Russell and 2011 for Tebow, both were sacked 33 times. Further, Tebow lost more yardage on his sacks that season than Russell did.
In the NFL, where the window to get a ball to the receiver is getting tighter and tighter, arm strength often wins out for the quarterback jobs. The number of players with the arm strength to get the ball out quickly and accurately is finite in NFL terms.
For Tebow, he’s never been able to translate the dominating game he had at Florida to the NFL. He led the Broncos to the playoffs after they installed his offense, a spread-option run game. But defenses were catching up with the Broncos and when he ran into Tom Brady and the Patriots, Denver got spanked, not that it’s never happened to other teams playing the Patriots.
Russell never got to the playoffs and the Raiders organization while he was there was arguably run as poorly as any franchise in the league.
Still, there’s a decent chance JaMarcus Russell, considered an all-time draft bust in the vein of Ryan Leaf, may be signed by the Bears, or another team if he looks good.
Meanwhile, Tebow will sit and wait to see if the NFL will come calling again or if it’s already time for the former Heisman Trophy winner to move to the next stage of his life.