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Thursday, April 22, 2010
Josh McDaniels' legacy is Tim Tebow

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Tim Tebow
The Denver Broncos will look to build their franchise around quarterback Tim Tebow.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Forget Jay Cutler.

Josh McDaniels’ legacy in Denver -- and probably as an NFL head coach -- will rest on the boldest in a series of brash moves he has made since becoming the Broncos' coach 15 months ago.

On the day he turned 34, McDaniels rocked the NFL world by wheeling and dealing all night in a cascade of moves that culminated in taking Florida quarterback Tim Tebow with the 25th pick.

The story of the 2010 draft is in Denver.

No player in recent memory has been as polarizing as Tebow. Some NFL scouts think the former Heisman Trophy winner has the right stuff to go with his Disney-esque will and character to become a standout NFL quarterback. Others in the league don’t think he has the right mechanical makeup to succeed, especially after an amateurish performance at the Senior Bowl. Others think he could be a solid H-back. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he couldn't get him on the field.

McDaniels?

Well, he has staked his career on Tebow, and traded three picks to draft him.

“He has all the traits you look for,” McDaniels said. “It’s a good pick.”

If Tebow becomes a standout quarterback under McDaniels’ tutelage, both will have long, wonderful careers in Denver. If Tebow fails to become mechanically sound and an acceptable NFL passer, he’ll begin his missionary life earlier than he had hoped and McDaniels will be the guy who was run out of Denver after making one too many risky moves.

Think McDaniels cares? Think again.

Remember, this is the guy who traded Cutler, a Pro Bowl quarterback, after a five-week spat. McDaniels shipped Cutler out of town without worrying about what people thought. He kicked Brandon Marshall out of town this month without worrying that his receiving group is a mess. Ironically, one of the picks acquired from Miami in the Marshall trade was part of the Tebow deal.

Now, he takes Tebow several picks higher than many people think he was worth. Tebow was the call despite Denver having glaring needs at other spots.

Again, McDaniels does it his own way.

He saw something in Tebow. He thinks he can win with him. He took Tebow over Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen. Clausen was likely higher than Tebow on at least 25 NFL boards. That doesn’t matter to McDaniels, who gushed about Tebow in his pre-draft press conference and who personally worked him out Monday.

Whether you question McDaniels’ methods or not, his ability to coach quarterbacks can’t be denied. Tom Brady broke records under his guidance. Matt Cassel owes a nice portion of his $40 million deal in Kansas City to McDaniels. Cassel went from a guy who hadn’t started since high school to starring under McDaniels in New England when Brady got hurt in 2008.

Journeyman Kyle Orton was solid under McDaniels last year. One of the reasons McDaniels was selected to replace Mike Shanahan at the age of 32 is because he convinced Denver owner Pat Bowen that he is a quarterback guru.

Tebow is his greatest project.

Don’t expect Tebow to start as a rookie although McDaniels said he will play when he’s ready. McDaniels also indicated there could be some packages made for Tebow right away and indicated he could play initially in a Wildcat (Wild Horse in Denver) formation.

Tebow is now McDaniels’ pet project. He is the guy he has been looking for since he came to Denver.

Tebow will be given the full attention of McDaniels beginning at next weekend’s rookie minicamp. Brady Quinn and Tom Brandstater? Thanks for coming.

This is Tebow’s show.

“We need players at that position to be very good players,” McDaniels said. “If we have the chance to make him special, that’s what we’re looking for.”

McDaniels got his man. Now, let’s see what he does with him.