Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.
Success in the NFL Draft is measured and evaluated twice.
The ultimate measure of success cannot be determined until years after the draft has concluded, when we can take a perspective view afforded only by time and then say with certainty “Yes, this player was a successful draft pick” (i.e. Tom Brady), or “No, this player was a bust.”
Because we don’t have the luxury of foresight, we are left to grade the draft only by the standards we know today. There are essentially two questions to be asked in this regard:
First, did the team select players that can effectively fit the team’s scheme? Second, did the team maximize their draft opportunities to get as much value out of those picks as possible?
By those standards, the Denver Broncos CLEARLY had the best draft of 2010. They formalized a specific plan, and they executed that plan FLAWLESSLY.
To begin with, head coach Josh McDaniels sent a clear message to his team and to the league at large, that he is interested predominately in high-character, high-commitment players. With last year’s departure of Jay Cutler, and now Brandon Marshall in 2010, McDaniels is making it known that there is a certain “quality” of player that he wants on his team.
He held true to that philosophy with his first pick of 2010, when he passed on wide receiver Dez Bryant (who was arguably the most talented receiver in the draft) to instead select Demaryius Thomas out of Georgia Tech. Bryant brings with him a great deal of off-field questions, following a suspension which cost him most of the 2009 season and questions about his “attitude.” While Thomas is no slouch as a wide out, he does not bring as much on-field upside as Bryant has. However, Bryant’s upside ON the field seems to have been outweighed by his OFF-field baggage, and that appears to be all that McDaniels needed to know.
Three picks later, McDaniels backed up his high-character initiative by selecting “Mr. High Character” in Tim Tebow.
The Tebow pick, in my estimation, was THE pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, and I think that McDaniels’ decision to go with Tebow was the PERFECT move for his Denver Broncos. Despite ESPN’s ongoing (Kiper-driven) insistence that this was a bad decision – one that many implied COULD cost McDaniels his career if proven unsuccessful – there is little doubt in my mind that Tebow will be successful in Denver.
I am tired of hearing about Tebow’s supposed inability to fit in the NFL. As I wrote in a previous verdict, Tebow doesn’t have to throw the ball conventionally to be successful. He only has to win, and winning is the one thing that has PROVEN he can do better than just about anybody in the 2010 NFL Draft. He just needed an organization to believe in his ability the way that Urban Meyer and the rest of the Florida Gators program believed. As he said during his post-selection interview, he did not need for EVERY team in the NFL to like him. He just needed to prove to ONE team that he would be successful in the NFL.
Fortunately for Tebow, Josh McDaniels agreed.
Rather than listen to the overblown criticism provided by outlets such as ESPN, McDaniels chose the one player that most exemplified the ideals which he himself prized above all others. The result is that Tebow is once again in an environment where he is being called upon because of his intangible qualities (although I never understood how you could question the “tangibles” of a kid with Tebow’s resume). Just as Urban Meyer believed in the special blend of talent, commitment, and character that Tebow possesses, and built a program designed to maximize those qualities, McDaniels has cast his support for the former Heisman Winner, NCAA record-holder, and two-time national champion (it still fascinates me that people will question his tangibles when he has accomplished so much).
Finally, the action that made the Broncos so successful with the 2010 draft was not the fact that they simply picked good players that fit their organization. It was the manner in which they got those players. Thanks to brilliant draft-day maneuvering, the Broncos flitted across the draft board all day long, only stopping to make a pick when they felt it suited their needs best. They essentially decided for themselves when they would pick, and it didn’t matter if it was their turn or not. When they wanted to make something happen, they made it happen. They traded back in the draft, then forward again, all to put themselves in the best possible position to get the players they WANTED and NEEDED without having to overpay.
The Denver Broncos had the best draft of 2010 for one reason – they went into the draft with a clearly defined plan, and they stuck to that plan. While we will not be able to judge the ultimate success or failure of the 2010 NFL Draft for many years to come, one thing is certain – no team executed their plan better than did the Denver Broncos. For that reason alone, I give them an A+!