Did Jon Gruden Factor in Tim Tebow Being Taken in the First Round?
Now that the 6.8 earthquake known as the NFL Draft is over and the subsequent aftershocks of reaction to the 255 selections has died down, something is not quite right.
I can't help but wonder if ESPN analyst Jon Gruden was the reason Tim Tebow was selected in the first round last Thursday by the Denver Broncos when many projections had the former Florida Heisman Trophy winner being taken in the second or third round.
Granted, all it takes is one team to like an athlete for him to become a coveted commodity. But in the case of Tebow, the only valuable assets NFL front-office types and scouts fell in love with were his worth ethic, leadership ability, and positive attitude.
Just a few months ago, Tebow did not even seem to be worthy of a Top 100 selection, let alone No. 25 overall after stumbling and bumbling his way through the Senior Bowl. His Byung-Hyun Kim throwing motion and mechanics were dissected like no other quarterback before him. National football analysts gave him little to no chance at all to be taken on the first day, although he was arguably the most decorated amateur athlete in recent memory.
Then the Tebow camp releases an Al Qadea-like video to the press showing him on a high school football field feverishly working to revamp his release point. Just like clock work, Jon Gruden—who has never met a quarterback he did not like when you take his tenure at Tampa Bay in account—becomes not only a pitchman for Tebow but football Tom Emanski playing the role of personal tutor.
This was illustrated on the ESPN produced Jon Gruden QB Camp where he critiqued Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen, and Sam Bradford in addition at the "Fired Football Coaches Association" in a south Florida bunker converted into a lavish film room prior to the draft.
On the show, "Chucky" went quickly into coach mode, rattling off catch phrases and facial expressions as only Gruden can when breaking down film of each prospect. The former Super Bowl winning coach grilled Clausen for calling three timeouts and being penalized for a delay of game last season at Michigan. At one point, Gruden called Clausen's play an embarrassment to Notre Dame and the quarterback position.
McCoy was told to work on his pocket awareness and change his accent so he could communicate with teammates. Gruden was really impressed with No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford's accuracy, footwork, and arm strength. The only real negative Gruden brought to his attention was the inability for the then Oklahoma signal-caller to avoid would-be tacklers outside the pocket.
Tebow was the final Gruden student during the one-on-one session. While going over a few contests, Gruden told Tebow he needed to work on not dropping his elbow on passes and making quick decisions while reading the defense.
That was something Tebow struggled with during the SEC Championship Game against Alabama. Nonetheless, Gruden gushed when Tebow admitted missing a read on a play prompting the coach to say, "Boy, you are easy to coach."
It did not stop there. The session continued with on field work as Tebow went through various passing drills under the watchful eye of Gruden. "Get away from the line of scrimmage young fella," he shouted to Tebow during a seven-step drop drill.
I understand Tebow was the talk of the pre-draft coverage, but why was he the only quarterback Gruden was filmed working with personally?
It almost seemed as if the network was the PR firm for Tebow Inc. willing him into the first round because of his all-American boy nature. Gruden quickly went into buy mode during the program when he described Tebow the football player.
"He has made tremendous improvements," he said. "And if you know Tim Tebow's work ethic, that is what you come to expect."
Aren't analysts supposed to objective instead of high-paid cheerleaders?
Maybe I'm just being a conspiracy theorist in this regard by saying Tebow's draft status was aided by the press in a similar fashion thousands of American birthers believe President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
If so, forgive me. That is what happens when the unexpected occurs beyond conventional wisdom.
When factoring in the Tebow hyperbole machine built over a four-year collegiate career combined with a well respected head coach not uttering a critical assessment of Tebow could have led to Josh McDaniels making the most controversial pick during the 2010 NFL Draft.
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