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Published: Monday, 4/26/2010

Time will tell if Tebow pick was a good one

Tebow Tebow
PATRICK SEMANSKY / AP Enlarge

It started with Sam Bradford and ended 255 picks later with Mr. Irrelevant, but there's only one NFL draft storyline that will keep the news cycle from spinning on to something else, that will keep the conversation lively on barstools and at water coolers.

Will Tim Tebow be Mr.

Relevant with Denver? Will it prove to be one of the greatest picks ever or the selection by which Broncos coach Josh

McDaniels outsmarted himself?

McDaniels is neither shy nor uncomfortable in his own skin. Remember, he's the guy who sparred with Jay Cutler and traded the All-Pro quarterback before ever coaching him. After one year with Brandon Marshall, he sent one of the league's most talented receivers packing.

And that came just after dealing highly

regarded, pass-catching tight end Tony Scheffler and a low draft pick to the Lions in a three-team deal that sent a pretty good linebacker, Ernie Sims, from Detroit to Philadelphia and netted the Broncos a mere fifth-round draft pick.

The Broncos' young coach has sent a simple message. If he doesn't like you or thinks you're a character, you're gone, regardless of talent. If he likes you, and thinks you have character, well, welcome to Denver, Mr. Tebow.

McDaniels traded three draft selections to Baltimore - he was fleeced for second, third, and fourth-rounders - to move back into the first round and take Tebow when it didn't appear anyone else was imminently interested and that quarterbacks much more highly regarded, skill-wise, than Tebow were in a free fall.

Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame dropped to No. 48 overall and Colt McCoy of Texas went to Cleveland with the 85th overall selection. McDaniels jumped up to grab Tebow at No. 25.

McDaniels made no apology for his brash move, nor does he seem to buy that Tebow's future might be as an H-back or a tight end or as a special team ace. At best, many so-called experts saw him getting time at quarterback only in a short-yardage, wildcat formation. At worst, there was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was quoted as saying he couldn't even fathom a way to get Tebow on the field.

"He's a quarterback," McDaniels said. "That's all he's going to do."

McDaniels knows a little about the position. He coached Tom Brady in New England. When Brady missed the 2008 season with an injury, backup Matt Cassel completed 63 per cent of his passes for 3,693 yards. That got Cassel a six-year, $63 million, free-agent deal with Kansas City, and it got McDaniels his first head coaching job. After trading Cutler, the coach probably coaxed as much as there was to get out of Kyle Orton last season.

In Tebow, however, he faces a project that will either make or break his career, at least in Denver.

Nobody questions Tebow's character or desire. If anything, he seems almost too good to be true. He was a great system quarterback at Florida and an unparalleled leader. But to be a leader in the NFL he also has to be a starter. And to accomplish that, the experts say he must improve his throwing motion, better recognize blitz packages and learn to harness his athleticism at times and stand in the pocket.

Certainly, nobody is rooting against Tebow, or against

McDaniels to turn this longshot and his gutsy pick into one of the best in NFL annals.

Contact Blade sports columnist

Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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