KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tim Tebow expects Josh Dobbs to have a better Senior Bowl experience than he did — and that’s before the outgoing Tennessee quarterback throws his first pass at the Mobile, Ala., event.
“My experience at the Senior Bowl was different,” Tebow told SEC Country in an exclusive interview earlier this month. “I had gotten a sickness and lost like 17 pounds, so that shouldn’t happen to him.”
Dobbs is one of several SEC players at this week’s Senior Bowl event, which culminates with Saturday’s game (2:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network).
Tebow can understand the challenges Dobbs has ahead of him as well as anyone, as he was also viewed as a so-called “dual-threat” quarterback coming out of college.
Tebow, like Dobbs, took most of his snaps at the collegiate level in the shotgun formation, and there were many who questioned his ability to transition to the NFL game when he appeared in the 2010 Senior Bowl.
“Josh will be asked to do a lot of different things at the Senior Bowl, and he will be asked to go under center a lot,” said Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner. “One thing he needs to show scouts and coaches is his ability to throw the intermediate and deep balls.”
Tebow, in his role as an analyst for the SEC Network, followed Dobbs’ senior season at Tennessee closely.
“I saw a lot of growth in Josh Dobbs this year, and I was happy with him and the way he played in the bowl game and the way he was playing as he finished out his career,” Tebow said.
“That Tennessee senior class has experienced a lot of highs and lows, but that is a resilient group and they bounced back from a lot of tough losses, and I think a lot of that was because of Josh Dobbs.”
Dobbs led the SEC in passing efficiency, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns.
Still, Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage bluntly pointed out that Dobbs will need to show more consistency with his throws, and the Senior Bowl will provide him with an ideal opportunity.
“I thought he was more comfortable down the stretch,” Savage said. “He seemed to be willing to throw the ball down the field more.”
Dobbs’ November was one to remember: The Vols QB completed 80.2 percent of his passes over the four games, compiling 969 yards, 11 TDs and 1 INT through the air while rushing for 4 TDs and 393 yards on 38 carries.
Tebow believes Dobbs is capable of making the most of his Senior Bowl week, and NFL teams might be a bit more accepting of spread-style quarterbacks than they were when he completed his eligibility with the Gators.
“I think Josh is a smart quarterback who has been in different systems and knows how to adjust to different offenses and game plans,” Tebow said. “You look at quarterbacks in the NFL and most teams are taking a lot of snaps in the shotgun. The NFL is going more and more to the spread.
“Very few are coming out like Carson Wentz, out of a pro-style offense, so more are coming from the spread offense.”
Cam Newton and more recently Dak Prescott are examples of quarterbacks that have shown the ability to successfully transition despite not playing a pro-style of offense in college.
Still, there are some who doubt Dobbs’ ability — most notably Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, an NFL draft analyst known for quick takes on Twitter.
Miller tweeted last week he doesn’t give Dobbs a draftable grade, and there are some who wonder if Dobbs might end up playing a different position in the NFL.
Tebow once faced the same sort of questions, and many wondered if he might use his great athleticism to play a different position in the NFL.
“Maybe there will be people that think Josh Dobbs could play another position,” Tebow said. “But If he wants to go after quarterback, I say go after it.
“For me it was about pursuing my passion and what was in my heart.”
Tebow, who according to published reports had a 103-degree temperature when he arrived in Mobile for his Senior Bowl week, ended up being selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Tebow impressed Denver despite rather pedestrian numbers in the Senior Bowl game, 8-of-12 passing for 50 yards and four rushes for 4 yards and a lost fumble.
Tebow took over as the Broncos’ starter in the 2011 season after the team had gotten off to a 1-4 start, The former Florida standout led Denver to the playoffs, where he sparked an historic 29-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers five years ago.
Tebow’s NFL career included playing for the New York Jets in 2012 and preseason stints with the New England Patriots (2013) and Philadelphia Eagles (2015).
Tebow, 29, is currently a baseball player in the New York Mets organization in addition to his work with the SEC Network and Allstate’s AFCA Good Works Team.
Dobbs told SECcountry.com that he has had great respect for Tebow going back to his childhood in Alpharetta, Ga.
“Tebow was one of the best college quarterbacks to play the game,” Dobbs said. “I saw him play live when Florida beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game (31-20, 2008), so I’ve been following his story for a while and he has accomplished a lot.”
SEC TOTAL TDs IN SINGLE SEASON
1. Tim Tebow, 55, Florida (2007)
2. Cam Newton, 50, Auburn (2010)
3. Johnny Manziel, 47, Texas A&M (2012)
4. Johnny Manziel, 46, Texas A&M (2013)
5. Andre Woodson, 43, Kentucky (2007)
6. Tim Tebow, 42, Florida (2008)
7. Chad Kelly, 41, Ole Miss (2015)
7. Dak Prescott, 41, Miss. State (2014)
7. Danny Wuerffel, 41, Florida (1996)
10. Josh Dobbs, 40, Tennessee (2016)
10. Tim Couch, 40, Kentucky (1997)