Change of direction: Making the difficult position switch


College football players put their resumes on film and are scouted and evaluated by them.  They excel in college at their respective positions, but the NFL is a different brand of football and some are judged to be better fits elsewhere and are asked to try different positions.  Some players are even asked to switch positions after a couple of years in the league, especially guys that are physically gifted, but have flailed away on the practice roster without getting closer to making the active roster.  Neither proposition is easy at all, no matter the position, but some have proven easier than others.

I continue to read opinions about Tim Tebow’s need to switch posiitons to a hybrid tight end/H-Back to find his way back into the league.  Tebow hasn’t played football in two years and his very little playing time with the New York Jets in 2012 as a special-teams guy was a poorly-executed failed experiment.  I don’t believe he will be able to play a hybrid position at the NFL level.

It is far harder for QB’s to transition to receiver positions than it is for DB’s and WR’s to make the flip over to defense or vice versa.  These incredibly athletic players usually practice both sides of the ball their whole lives, whereas QB’s are usually quarterbacks from little league on up and learn a lot more about absorbing hits than dishing them out.  And while Tebow ran the ball like a running back much of the time, running routes, catching passes from NFL arms and blocking NFL pass-rushers is a new world unlike he has ever seen and I don’t think he has a chance at success there, nor under center (or in shotgun) for that matter.

There are plenty of stories over the years of guys that have made successful position switches, but definitely one of the harder things to do.  Terrelle Pryor spun his wheels as a QB with the Oakland Raiders for the first three years of his career before failing to make the Seattle Seahawks last season and now will take his 4.38 40 speed and see if he can catch passes as a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns.  History would say that he will struggle and probably won’t make it, but Joe Webb is also a big guy that runs well and is still listed as a quarterback for the Carolina Panthers even though he has caught passes the last two years with the Minnesota Vikings.  “The more you can do,” is an old saying in the NFL and Joe Webb’s versatility is proving a good way for him to extend his career.  Will he run routes for Cam Newton and also stay ready to step in for him in case of injury?  If he can, it sure would make him a valuable roster spot.

No one is quite sure what Chip Kelly is planning with Tim Tebow in Philadelphia or if Terrelle Pryor can run and CATCH passes or if the new scenery in Carolina will get Joe Webb back to being a full-time QB, but one thing is sure, whether or not it is a quarterback or any other position (even moving from left guard to right guard isn’t easy), switching positions at the highest level of the game is an uphill climb to say the least.

About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson

Former NFL quarterback, training youth QB's in Tampa, Florida. Football Analyst for Bright House Sports Network and Football Insiders.