Tebow brushes aside the detractors

Tim Tebow needs a hot tub time machine.

He could journey back to a simpler era where a high draft selection would be guaranteed. Tebow's quarterbacking accomplishments at the University of Florida would outweigh the concerns about his mechanics and throwing motion being espoused by NFL personnel directors and draft analysts. His wholesome image would be universally lauded, not ridiculed by snarky media members and Internet bloggers.

Unfortunately for Tebow, time travel can only happen in the movies. Tebow, though, still plans to make his critics all wet whenever and wherever he is picked in the 2010 draft.

"I honestly let all that talk fuel me to work and train that much harder," Tebow told FOXSports.com on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, that's the society we live in today. A lot of people want to pull you down."

Detractors be damned, Tebow's draft stock is on the rise heading into tonight's first round. He recently conducted private workouts for five NFL teams - Denver, Washington, Seattle, Minnesota and New England - and has drawn interest from other clubs intrigued by his mix of size, leadership, competiveness and athleticism. All the work Tebow has done toward changing his release point and taking snaps from under center has paid dividends. Once considered a likely second-round pick, Tebow now shows signs of going late in the first round.

"There have been a lot of tests that teams have put me through," Tebow said. "Quarterback coaches have been talking about different schemes, the digit system, West Coast-style offenses and how it relates to pass protections. They're taking what I already know about football and adding to it."

Tebow ranks among the greatest college players ever. A dual run-pass threat, Tebow won a Heisman Trophy and was part of two national champion teams.

Even so, there are legitimate concerns such success won't translate to the NFL. Pittsburgh Steelers personnel director Kevin Colbert said Tebow would need one to three years adjusting to a pro-style offense after playing in a spread system at Florida. Sirius NFL Radio analyst and ex-NFL quarterback Jim Miller is concerned that Tebow will revert to old habits - like holding the football too low on his wind-up - when under pressure in games. Miller played for Chicago in the late 1990s when the Bears unsuccessfully attempted to change Cade McNown's sidearm throwing motion.

"They tried to get him to become more accurate by throwing over the top and he just couldn't do it," Miller said. "He spent the whole offseason working on it, then lo and behold, everything went to crap on the first day of practice. He threw the way he always threw.

"For Tim, it's not just the motion or footwork involved. It's everything."

One thing that won't be questioned is Tebow's character. Although his participation in a pro-life Super Bowl commercial rankled some pro-choice advocates - not to mention those who believe he goes too far publicly espousing Christianity -- Tebow has practiced what he preaches, living a squeaky-clean lifestyle in a hard-partying college town. Google searches would boom on game days with fans wanting to know the meaning of the biblical verses Tebow had imprinted on his eye-black - a practice recently banned by the NCAA.

"From the NCAA's perspective, I can understand them doing that because there are so many thousands of athletes and so many rules. This makes it easier for them overall to control things," Tebow said. "But for me, it was a great thing. It was an opportunity to get my message out there."

Besides the football training and marketing responsibilities arranged by agent Jimmy Sexton, Tebow has still made time this month for speaking engagements at colleges and religious functions. Tebow plans to continue such outreach though his new foundation ( www.timtebowfoundation.org ) aimed at helping orphanages as well as sick and disadvantaged children.

A league embarrassed by the off-field actions of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has nothing to worry about with Tebow. No wonder NFL commissioner Roger Goodell personally lobbied (albeit unsuccessfully) for Tebow to attend draft festivities at Radio City Music Hall. Tebow will instead spend the draft with friends and family members in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla.

Within 48 hours, Tebow will have a new NFL home. And the road he took to get there is one Tebow wouldn't change - time machine or not.

"I feel I'm becoming a better quarterback," Tebow said. "I'm better when it comes to fundamentals and understanding different schemes. The key to my whole life is trying to get better every day. That's not true of every athlete. Sometimes when people feel they've arrived, they settle. Not me. My edge is constantly having that drive to be the best."