Round 1 Snaps: Tebow's Mile High landing, a sour night for Clausen
Josh McDaniels' Denver tenure may be judged by drafting Tim Tebow at No. 1
The Broncos now have three viable QBs, likely leaving Brady Quinn in a bind
Marshawn Lynch's run with the Bills is likely over, with C.J. Spiller in the mix
NEW YORK -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we watched a prime-time version of the NFL Draft's first round from a raucous Radio City Music Hall ...
Never before has the 25th pick of the NFL Draft ever held such weight and meaning, but leave it to Tim Tebow to run his favored quarterback sneak and make it to the first-round stage after all.
Denver's bold gambit was the headline move of a trade-filled round Thursday night, and for both good or bad, the pick of Tebow might just go a long way toward defining the still-young tenure of Denver head coach Josh McDaniels.
Then again, this is an NFL rookie head coach who had the moxie to last year trade away his Pro Bowl starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, before he ever played a snap for him. And let's not forget about last week's Brandon Marshall deal, which merely sent away Denver's top receiver, himself a multiple Pro Bowl pick.
You can't say McDaniels lacks the courage of his convictions. The man has stones, as they say.
Denver was clearly the biggest wheeler and dealer on a very busy night of action on the phone lines, and when all of the Broncos' moves were done, they yielded a very promising young receiver in Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas at No. 22, and the selection that got everyone talking in Florida's Tebow, whose NFL potential as a quarterback inspired only slightly less debate than health care reform.
Hindsight being 20-20 and all that, Denver would seem to be an ideal spot for Tebow to serve his NFL apprenticeship. For one, the Broncos already have two quarterbacks in Kyle Orton and the newly acquired Brady Quinn (who might be the night's real loser, come to think of it). That should give Tebow time to work on his game without even being asked to serve as an NFL backup as a rookie, let alone a starter.
And secondly, McDaniels taking Tebow makes all kind of sense given the friendship and coaching approach that has long been shared by Florida head coach Urban Meyer -- Tebow's biggest fan -- and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. McDaniels, of course, learned every bit of his football under Belichick and served as New England's offensive coordinator before getting hired by Denver in 2009. He models himself after Belichick to such a degree that -- still to this day -- when Belichick sprains his ankle, McDaniels limps, too.
As almost everyone has said for months now, Tebow is a work in progress at quarterback. But McDaniels obviously believed in the ultimate success of that construction job more than any other NFL head coach, and he just backed it up with his team's money and his own reputation.
It's a gutsy call by the Broncos, and McDaniels just raised the stakes of the move considerably by calling Tebow's name in the first round, quite a bit higher than many expected. It's a gamble that had better work out at some point in the future for Denver, or McDaniels the brave-hearted might well be remembered as Josh the fool-hardy.
Raise your hand if you had Tebow going in the first round and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen being the quarterback who sat all night by a phone that refused to ring. I'm sure there are teams that will tell you now it was going to happen, but Clausen's slide continued longer than most experts predicted.
He'll go early in Round 2 in all likelihood, maybe even to Minnesota, which owns the second pick of the round on Friday night, but it turns out all that pre-draft chatter about Clausen's leadership and accountability issues were very much a factor in his scouting process.
I don't think Clausen did himself any favors by going on that Jon Gruden quarterback camp show on ESPN last week. You know the one. It's where he answered one of Gruden's questions during some film study by throwing a Notre Dame receiver under the bus when reviewing tape of a Clausen interception.
That 24th overall pick was like the plague. It went from Philadelphia to Denver to New England to Dallas in the span of about an hour. And in the end, the Cowboys used it to take the most enigmatic player in this draft -- Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant.
The psychology of this pick was pretty easy to read: Never again, said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Never again. Hesitant to take a big-time receiver with character issues back in April 1998, the Cowboys passed on Marshall's Randy Moss and then watched the Vikings star torment them for years to come (even reprising the revenge theme with New England in 2007).
This time, Jones was determined to right that wrong by getting proactive and going after Bryant, if he came anywhere near Dallas's original No. 27 slot. Jones swapped firsts with New England (27th for 24th) and threw in a third-round pick (90th overall) for the chance to go up and get Bryant. They had to, because No. 25 Baltimore was ready and willing to catch the falling star if New England didn't take him itself.
Jones is a happy man today, but the Cowboys might well need a babysitter in addition to a receivers coach for the maturity-challenged Bryant. But if he's anywhere near the steal that Moss was for Minnesota in 1998, Jerry will gladly foot the bill.
I know one guy who didn't like the Cowboys pick of Bryant one bit: Dallas receiver Roy Williams. The ex-Detroit Lion, who came to the Cowboys at the price of a king's ransom at the trading deadline 2008, is looking more and more like the odd man out in Dallas all the time.
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