Broncos may avoid 1st-round QB

Updated: December 12, 2011, 3:01 AM ET
By Chris Mortensen | ESPN

If Tim Tebow continues to show improvement and leads the Broncos to the playoffs, the franchise is likely to commit to him as its starting quarterback in 2012 and not automatically use a first-round draft pick on another quarterback, according to team sources.

Any commitment to Tebow as a starter does not mean the Broncos will ignore the quarterback position in the offseason because Denver only has Tebow and rookie Adam Weber under contract beyond this season. Backup quarterback Brady Quinn will be a free agent in March.

If Denver commits to Tebow as a starter, the Broncos will "draft the best player available" regardless of position, a source said, whereas the organization and executive vice president of football operations John Elway had expected to use a first-round pick on a quarterback in April's draft.

"If the best player is a cornerback, then that's who we'll take; if the best player is a quarterback, then that's who we'll take," said a team source. "But the way (Tebow) is making strides as a quarterback -- not just the winning part -- it means we won't have to force it."

The source said the Broncos will still add a quarterback either in free agency of through the draft "to build depth, but Tim is closer to building a comfort level that we can go forward with him."

With Tebow at the helm, the Broncos have won six straight, seven of their last eight and are currently alone in first atop the AFC West, despite getting off to a 1-4 start. Tebow led the Broncos to a 13-10 overtime victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Tebow has also done a remarkable job protecting the football, throwing one interception in 158 pass attempts entering play Sunday.

"You can't call it fait accompli but it's quite a turnound from where we were a month or two ago," one team source said.

Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. Information from ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson was used in this report.

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