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Draft Analysis: Broncos will Regret Tebow Pick

This story was written by national columnist Mike Freeman
Every year, there is a team that puts on a clown suit and makes a fool of itself in the NFL Draft. Often, it's the Raiders. This year, it was the Denver Broncos, who were bamboozled by the man with the straight smile and crooked delivery.

Tim Tebow is a nice young man. Every father should want their daughter to marry him but a general manager should know better. A team should know better. The Broncos demonstrated they know little about the draft by picking Tebow with the 25th pick overall. The ... 25th ... pick.

It was still difficult to believe even as the crowd at Radio City laughed and made fun of the Broncos after Tebow's name was called.

The league is laughing at Denver right now. Other teams are guffawing and mocking them and making Broncos jokes. The countdown until Josh McDaniels gets his ass canned has officially started. Denver wasted a valuable first-round pick on a player who will do nothing for years unless they move Tebow to fullback or make him a missionary and have him snip foreskins.

Somewhere, John Elway weeps.

This was, indeed, one of the strangest drafts for quarterbacks ever. This was my 15th draft and I've never seen such quarterback weirdness.

Tebow, the least NFL ready of the big names, goes before Jimmy Clausen, the most NFL ready. Clausen is in the middle of a Brady Quinn freefall and could go in the second round to Minnesota on Friday.

"Only one team has to like you," Tebow said. "This time it was a great coach in coach McDaniels. I am so blessed to go there."

The juxtaposition is striking. The current positioning of the two players says a great deal about what the NFL thinks of Clausen. It's also a statement on how Tebow and his management team pulled a great snow job on the Broncos by highlighting his alleged revamped throwing motion.

It's easy to understand what happened here. The perception of Tebow as a good guy and seller of tickets and jerseys is opposite that of Clausen, who is seen by the league as a cocky jerk.

It was almost conspiratorial what happened to these two. Teams propped up Tebow because they liked him personally while simultaneously tearing down Clausen because they thought he was arrogant. One NFC scout told me on Thursday night: "Jimmy Clausen's smirk finally caught up with him."

More coverage of the NFL Draft:

Complete Coverage: 2010 NFL Draft
NFL Draft: (Moderate) Success Awaits Top 2 Picks

The perception among the NFL, clearly, is twofold. Clausen is talented but Clausen is a jerk and that latter description apparently matters more to NFL teams. How else do you explain Tebow going before him and Clausen falling like a brick?

Is this fair? Maybe not. Is this hypocritical for the league to dislike Clausen while allowing others with real troubled pasts to go unscathed? Um, hell yeah. It's the NFL. Hypocrisy runs through the league's blood like steroids through a German sprinter. The league, on the first day, drafted a player who allegedly failed two drug tests.

Cockiness in a quarterback is a desired trait but the line from cockiness to jackass-ness is a thin one and easily crossed. (Look at me, I cross it hourly.) Apparently, NFL personnel men have some secret formula for what percentage cockiness/jackass-ness a quarterback should possess and Clausen didn't pass that test.

This is what some will say. The reason Clausen fell is because he wasn't as talented as teams and the media projected. That's simply false. Many teams believe Clausen is extremely gifted and arguably the most NFL-ready of all the college throwers. Let's not revise history. Clausen is good, worthy of a higher selection, and most in the league believe this as well. Some teams just don't like him personally.

Clausen has top 15 talent and Tebow fourth- or fifth-round ability. If you can't see that, turn in your personnel badge immediately. No more mock drafts for you.

Clausen isn't without blame. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden's sit-down film study with Clausen was good for Gruden but bad for Clausen. In one scene, Clausen appears to throw one of his receivers under a bus. To some teams it was further proof that Clausen wasn't a great guy.

Conversely, Tebow benefited from some of the more worshipful treatment any college prospect has ever received, both from the media and NFL apologists.
Tebow will charm Denver because he's a genuinely good person but he's not an NFL quarterback.

You know it's a really strange draft when the Raiders have a better draft day than the Broncos.