Broncos gamble on Tebow, but could end up with handsome reward

NEW YORK -- Tim Tebow, first-round draft pick.

Get used to it.

Pick-by-pick analysis

Bucky Brooks examines every pick from Thursday's first round, including why the Broncos passed on Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen to draft Florida's Tim Tebow. **More ...**

The great college quarterback that so many pundits insist will be a bust at the position in the NFL became part of some very elite company near the end of the first round of the draft Thursday night. That was when the Denver Broncos sent shock waves throughout the league by using the 25th overall choice, which followed four trades (two down and two up), on Tebow. Tebow came after the second upward move.

Crazy or brilliant?

Time will tell (and by most estimations, Tebow is considered a two- or three-year project), but no other choice is going to be scrutinized as heavily as this one.

If you can get past the fact that some NFL scouts and a number of analysts see the former Florida star as perhaps an H-back or filling some other position other than quarterback, try and wrap your brain around this: He was only one of two quarterbacks selected in the first round. The other, of course, was Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, whom the St. Louis Rams made the top overall pick.

Everyone expected the Rams to do what they did.

No one expected the Broncos, or any team, to take Tebow ahead of Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.

Conventional wisdom had Clausen as the second-best quarterback in the draft. He was expected to be chosen somewhere in the first round, but that never happened. He certainly was expected to be picked ahead of Tebow.

Crazy or brilliant?

Clausen was supposed to have the sound passing mechanics. He was the one who played for former/current NFL offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and, therefore, seemingly was better prepared than perhaps any quarterback in the college crop for the NFL.

But there were questions about Clausen's personality, whether he could be an effective leader. Many teams were known to be bothered by that, and clearly, enough of them were turned off to allow Clausen to fall right out of the first round.

There were no such concerns about Tebow.

No, the rap on him was, well, poor mechanics. He had that low, looping release that he spent the past couple of months trying to fix. Sure, he was the consummate winner, with a 35-6 record as a starting quarterback. He was tough. He was an excellent athlete. He was big and strong and a man of sterling character.

The only thing he couldn't do, according to the so-called experts, was throw a football well enough to succeed in the NFL.

It's likely the experts haven't changed their mind. That, of course, puts the onus on Tebow and the Broncos to prove them wrong.

Tebow is a supremely confident young man. He has no doubts about his ability to have success in the NFL.

And, if you look at it, Denver is the perfect place for him.

For one thing, although Josh McDaniels still has a lot to prove as a head coach, his credentials as a teacher and developer of quarterbacks are exceptional. He has the skills to give Tebow the necessary instruction to adapt his game to the NFL.

McDaniels has another crucial ingredient: Time.

McDaniels is only in his second season with the Broncos, and he will have the two or three years it might require to mold Tebow into a competent (or better) starter. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton can hold down the job. Orton also has the right personality to handle having a mega-star behind him on the depth chart.

Another reason the Broncos are such a good fit for the former Gators quarterback is that they run a spread offense. That is the scheme that Tebow ran in college while playing for coach Urban Meyer, who has a close connection with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, for whom McDaniels formerly served as an offensive coordinator.

The Broncos' spread offense is similar to the Patriots' spread offense. And Tebow should feel comfortable in it. He shouldn't face a terribly difficult learning curve because the system will allow him to use his considerable athleticism, along with his strong passing arm.

McDaniels' creativity is one more factor to consider. He will find ways to incorporate Tebow in the offense as a change-up to Orton in certain situations. McDaniels will figure out how to take advantage of the physical talent that the Broncos are able to employ until Tebow has the mental part of the job down well enough to use him more extensively.

Crazy or brilliant?

We'll see. And we'll scrutinize.

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