Tim Tebow: What Did the Broncos 2011 Draft Say About Tebow's Future in Denver?

Adam OdekirkContributor IIMay 2, 2011

DENVER - DECEMBER 26:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos rolls out and looks to deliver a pass against the Houston Texas at INVESCO Field at Mile High on December 26, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Texans 24-23.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

For the first time in a long time, Denver Bronco fans were given a break from spending every waking moment contributing to the Tebow vs. Orton debate.

The brief pause was thanks to the Broncos selecting Von Miller in the first round of the draft. However, the pause would be fleeting, as the 46th overall selection in the draft would ignite the conversation once again.

Orlando Franklin seems to be, in most peoples minds, a 316-pound symbol of the Broncos' decision to go with Tim Tebow as their starter.

Their contention, of course, is that Franklin, who is experienced as a right tackle out of the University of Miami, would be protecting the blind side of the left-handed Tebow.

The break was nice while it lasted, but here we go again.

The person on the Broncos' roster that was most interested in the drafting of Orlando Franklin was neither Tebow nor Orton; it was Ryan Harris.

In interviews after the draft, Denver Broncos GM Brian Xanders intimated that Harris’ time in Denver is all but over. He had a very impressive debut season as a Bronco. At one time he and Ryan Clady were projected as one of the strongest tackle tandems in the league going forward.

Injuries and declining play though have spelled the end of Harris in Denver who, depending on the conditions of the new CBA, will likely not be on the roster in 2011.

Therefore, the drafting of Franklin (while admittedly a surprise) was more the sign that one players time as a starter in Denver is ending then the beginning of another.

Harris was not the only reason that the Broncos had such a woeful running attack last season. Still, as Elway, Fox and Xanders have said ad nauseam, they were taking the best player available on the board at 46 and Franklin offered the best opportunity at that moment to improve the offensive line.

There are also those who would point to the selections of tight ends Julius Thomas and Virgil Green as signs that the Tebow-era is close to beginning.

They would serve as the missing link in the mid range passing game, giving Tebow time to get more comfortable with the vertical passing game.

Again, this is a case of people hearing what they want to hear and thinking what they want to think.

In fact, the argument for those tight ends benefiting a quarterback on the Broncos' roster might be more aptly applied to Kyle Orton.

Orton was on track for a decent season were it not for his dreadful performance on third down conversions and in the red zone. These are all times where a tight end is a beneficial presence.

One would guess that Orton leads Tebow in average yards per completion by a large margin. This would seem to make sense, since it is assumed that a less-seasoned quarterback like Tebow is checking down to running backs for short completions on a more regular basis than Orton.

Although, the truth is that Tebow led in that category last season, not Orton. Obviously, the sample size for Tebow was much smaller, but even that goes towards supporting Tebow’s surprising ability to move the ball down field, because he had fewer opportunities to inflate that number.

Out of the nine total picks that the Denver Broncos had in the 2011 NFL Draft, six of them were defensive players.

This is a team that is ready to address its most urgent problem, which is a statistically awful defense by NFL standards.

The Broncos draft added pieces that will benefit any signal caller for years to come. Adding youth, depth and talent to a defense is never a bad thing and the decisions on offensive players were signs of wanting to upgrade; not support the candidacy of one player’s ascension to the starting ranks.

Tim Tebow’s future may still be bright and it very well might begin at some point this season, but Kyle Orton will likely see the benefits of the Broncos' draft on the field before Tebow in 2011.