Tim Tebow is still a project.
The problem in Denver is that the workshop to mold and sculpt the Heisman winner into a consistently effective NFL quarterback was run by a man who has now left town. The new foreman may not be so sure he wants the job to continue.
When John Elway made his return to the Mile High City last January and later fired head coach Josh McDaniels midway through the season, questions immediately turned to the future of Tebow. The Gators standout had a special relationship with McDaniels, a bond that prompted the former Broncos coach to use the 25th overall pick last spring on a quarterback who came from a spread offence and used his legs as his primary weapon.
Since the departure of McDaniels, Elway has delicately trotted around the public relations ring to avoid a potential quarterback controversy. New head coach John Fox named veteran Kyle Orton the starter heading into next season, and then seemingly the team was set to address much larger gaping holes in their defence. Tebow will likely be their franchise quarterback eventually, and if he isn’t this year, so what? Improving a run defence that ranked 31st in the league and an almost equally atrocious pass defence should be the far greater priorities.
But they aren’t, at least not according to Elway’s actions and words. The Broncos have extensively researched and followed Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert throughout the draft season, attending the Pro Days of both quarterbacks. The top two QBs in this year’s draft have also been invited for an interview in April at the team’s headquarters.
Elway acknowledged the Broncos’ sincere interest in this year’s quarterback class with their No. 2 overall pick while speaking to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. He remained cautious when addressing the future of Tebow.
“We’re always looking for that guy. We may already have the guy who can pull the trigger and win us a championship someday. We may have him. We don’t know. We believe in Tim, but he’s not there yet.”
In addition to courting Newton and Gabbert, Klis writes that the Broncos attended Ryan Mallet’s Pro Day, and the team will hold private workouts with Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, and Colin Kaepernick. Of those names, only Locker is likely to be gone when Denver is on the clock with the first of their two second round picks (36th overall), a spot that makes much more sense to draft insurance for Tebow.
Elway’s apprehension is understandable, but misguided. For a quarterback with a heavily clouded future, Tebow performed well in his three-start cameo last season, passing for 654 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He completed 50 percent of his passes while also running for 227 yards and six touchdowns.
In short, Tebow was exactly what the Broncos thought he would be: a strong, mobile quarterback with a powerful arm and inconsistent accuracy. He is the improving project who will still grow while watching from the sidelines early next season. His deficiencies certainly aren’t enough to abandon his development, a conclusion the Broncos would be stepping towards by drafting another highly-touted prospect like Newton or Gabbert.
This draft is rich in defensive talent, both up front and in the secondary. I pegged LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson to step onto the stage when the Broncos make their first-round pick, while Gagnon went for Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Others have also slotted in Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.
All of those potential defensive stars would be fine selections, along with Alabama’s Marcell Dareus. But drafting another quarterback early and creating more questions at a position with enough unnecessary questions is senseless.
The Broncos’ courtship of Newton and Gabbert is likely–and hopefully–little more than smoke signals.