Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: April 20, 11:32 AM ET
Jets: Tim Tebow's impact 'subtle'
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are planning to use Tim Tebow in a variety of roles on offense, but they claimed Thursday his versatility will have only a "subtle" impact, if that, on their draft plans.
Team executives, speaking at a pre-draft news conference, downplayed the Tebow Factor, emphasizing that he's a backup player -- a backup quarterback.
"That's how we're listing him, that's how we're carrying him on our roster," said general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who traded for the former Denver Broncos starter last month.
"[His versatility] could be a subtle tiebreaker, knowing he has a unique skill set and athleticism," Tannenbaum added. "But in terms of how we're looking at our strategy, he's clearly a quarterback for us."
Tebow is the No. 2 quarterback, behind incumbent Mark Sanchez, but he also will be used in the wildcat package -- perhaps as many as 20 plays a game, according to coach Rex Ryan. They're also planning to deploy him as a running back, fullback and H-back, ESPN reported.
For competitive purposes, the Jets haven't commented on the full scope of Tebow's role. But if he carries the ball, say, five to 10 times a game, it will have an obvious impact on the running back situation. Team officials didn't want to acknowledge that publicly, especially before the draft, lest they tip their plans.
Guard Matt Slauson said Monday that "it's like we're going to be two separate teams," alluding to the contrasting skill sets of Sanchez and Tebow. The Jets tried to squash that perception.
"From an offensive standpoint, it's important (to note that) we're lining up in one offense. We have one Jet offense," said Joey Clinkscales, the team's vice president of college scouting.
"We want the best wide receiver available, the best offensive guard available, the best tight end available," he added. "We're not specifically going to draft a guy, or not draft a guy, because of what that particular player might do, especially if he's the backup."
Interestingly, Tannenbaum said he wouldn't rule out drafting a quarterback, but that seems highly unlikely, as the Jets have three quarterbacks all under 26 years old and all under contract for at least three years. The third-stringer is Greg McElroy.
The Jets have a total of 10 draft picks, including the 16th pick in the first round. They weren't forthcoming on their most pressing needs, but it's no secret they want a pass rusher, a wide receiver, a safety and an offensive tackle.
Tannenbaum, known for his aggressive moves on draft day, said he's open to trading up or down. The Jets covet Alabama running back Trent Richardson, but they'd probably have to trade up at least 10 spots to get him.
Even though they talked up second-year back Bilal Powell as a replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson, the Jets could take another runner later in the draft. They believe eight or nine backs are worthy of selection in the first five rounds.
Ideally, they'd love to land an outside pass rusher in the first round. They like Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Quinton Coples (North Carolina) and Courtney Upshaw (Alabama).
Clinkscales called Coples a "phenomenal athlete," but echoed the concern of many teams -- his play slipped last season. Upshaw is "a fantastic football player," according to Clinkscales, but questions about his overall athleticism could prompt the Jets to pass.
The prospect that received the most effusive praise was Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, who could be available with the 16th pick.
"There are a lot of things about this player to like," said Clinkscales, adding the Jets have checked out Floyd's three alcohol-related arrests. "We'd be excited ... to have Michael Floyd. He's in the mix with a lot of other guys. Michael Floyd is a supremely talented wide receiver with a bright future."
Tannebaum said he'd love to uncover the next Jeremy Lin, mentioning little-known Caleb Schlauderaff as a possible candidate. Schlauderaff is a second-year guard who didn't see any significant action last season.
Asked if he expects Schlauderaff to make TIME magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as Lin and Tebow did, Tannenbaum was speechless. But he laughed.