ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Tim Tebow has a new No. 1 fan in Josh McDaniels.
The Denver Broncos coach made the former Heisman Trophy winner a first-round NFL draft pick Thursday night, a bold move that surprised many in football, but not Florida coach Urban Meyer.
Tebow helped Florida win two BCS national championships in the Gators' run-heavy system, but many wondered whether he was worthy of a first-round selection because his skills might not translate to some NFL teams' passing-centric offenses.
McDaniels is betting they will.
Tebow, the coach said, "has all the traits you're looking for in terms of toughness, competitiveness, he's intelligent, he's won a lot of games, he's a leader, he works hard, he's got all the intangibles you look for in a player at that position."
The Broncos traded three picks to Baltimore for the Ravens' first-round pick, then took Tebow at No. 25 with two more polished quarterbacks, Texas' Colt McCoy and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, still available.
"The Denver Broncos are getting a winner," Meyer said. "Tim will show on the field what he is capable of doing and more than anything Tim has a competitive fire that will constantly push him to get better and do whatever he can to help his team win."
The Broncos gave up choices in the second (No. 43), third (No. 70) and fourth (No. 114) rounds to move back into the first round and draft Florida's southpaw quarterback, whom McDaniels had raved about last week.
Although it's highly unlikely he'll be the starting quarterback in five months' time, Tebow will begin his NFL career Sept. 12 in his hometown of Jacksonville when the Broncos play the Jaguars in the season opener.
Tebow said he has no idea when he might take over as the Broncos' starting quarterback.
"That's not even something I'm thinking about," Tebow said. "What I'm thinking about is going in there and learning the offense, competing, working hard and being the first one in and last one to leave, showing them I love this and love what I do, and thank you so much for taking me and I'm not going to let you down."
Tebow said he's eager to begin repaying McDaniels for the faith he has shown in him.
"I want to be a great quarterback," Tebow said. " ... For the next few years, my mindset is going to be to repay him for what he did for me, believing in me. Just like it was when I was at Florida. My biggest joy was doing things for Coach Meyer, winning championships, being able to help him."
With his athleticism, Tebow could play other positions -- say, tight end or on special teams -- and he could be used in Wildcat formations right away to take advantage of his running prowess even if he doesn't supplant Orton.
"Tim's a player that's capable of doing different things. Could be a game-plan type thing if we determine it's best early in his career," McDaniels said. "He's a guy that gives you an opportunity to create some packages like that and if you want to do that, then you can get creative."
Although he has started to correct his sidearm throwing motion, Tebow must adjust to taking snaps under center and dropping back while dodging the pass rush after operating almost exclusively out of the shotgun in college.
Tebow's mechanics and throwing motion were dissected ad nauseam in the weeks leading up to the draft, and he insisted he embraced the critiques and criticism.
"I loved it, because it was so much football," Tebow said. "I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the working process and all the critics and negativity, it only pushed me that much more and made me work that much harder. I can honestly say that I think that made me better.
"I think that was a positive thing for me, to be honest with you. I believed in myself. I believed in the people that are around me and supporting me. I thank my quarterback coaches, for the work they put in, in constantly getting better."
Tebow said he took the scrutiny to heart and tried to adjust his mechanics accordingly because "I wanted to show that I wanted to get better, but also was coachable, was humble enough to take coaching, to learn to do what someone says. I think that's something I tried to show and feel I showed with Coach McDaniels and the staff there."
Three spots before picking Tebow, the Broncos selected wide receiver Demaryius Thomas of Georgia Tech with the 22nd pick. The Broncos needed a big, athletic wide receiver after trading two-time Pro Bowl pick Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins last week, and at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, Thomas fit the bill.
Marshall had become a chronic headache in Denver, and Thomas, like Tebow, is considered a low-risk, high-character player with whom McDaniels is trying to stock his roster.
"We were fortunate to get two players that we really coveted, that we really think fit in here," McDaniels said. "We know what we're going to get from them: hard work."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press