Of all the NFL Draft dynamics between now and the end of April, one of the most intriguing has to be watching the Tebow-doubting draft gurus reconcile their bearishness with what will inevitably be Tebow's climb up team draft boards.
On the one hand, you have your integrity -- if you don't think that Tebow is worth a 1st-round pick, you should absolutely not have him on your 1st-round "board."
On the other hand, you have reality -- a player's value isn't what a draftnik says it is: It is what the teams' "willingness to pick" is.
If teams -- Jaguars, Patriots, Redskins, etc -- send out signals that they are interested in using a 1st-round pick on Tebow, the draftnik has two choices:
Hold out. Or have a "board" that reflects reality of where a player is likely to go.
Now, the draftnik can hedge and simply say "This is simply how I grade the players, not how they will be picked." That works for now -- and probably through February.
But then we get into "mock draft" territory -- and where a player will go (what draft slot) matters infinitely more than where a draftnik ranks the player relative to other potential draftees.
And so we are here: Mel Kiper does not have Tim Tebow on Kiper's first "Big Board" of the Top 25 prospects of the 2010 NFL Draft. (Insider subscription required). I, however, contend that Tebow will be a Top 25 pick. (And folks like Gil Brandt agree with me.)
At some point, Mel -- and other draftniks who are bearish on Tebow -- will have to reconcile their feelings with reality... with looking foolish, really.
I am sure they will have a hard time with it; it's called cognitive dissonance.
I for one am actually kind of torn myself: Sure, I would love to see Tebow's draft stock "legitimized" by someone like Kiper or McShay, if they followed the bullish Brandt and put him in the top half of the 1st round.
On the other hand, I find their potential pre-draft conflict fascinating.
As NFL scout Russ Lande put it in the big GQ profile of Tebow:
"He's going to be the most debated guy in ten years. It's going to be a circus with this kid. Oh, my God."
UPDATE: Great little detail in Jeremy Fowler's post on Kiper today, recounting an on-air exchange between Mel and Tim.
UPDATE 2: Not about Tebow, but about the Draft. A lot of talk about Dunlap being No. 3 on Kiper's Big Board. I think Haden may emerge as a Top 10 pick -- the top CB in the 2010 draft -- before the season is over. Spikes is obviously a 2010 1st-rounder.
But there is a lot of talk about Haden calling Will Hill the best player on Florida's defense right now. That would be the best defense in college football history, featuring no less than 3 2010 NFL 1st-round picks. Expect Hill and Janoris Jenkins to be targeted as 2011 1st-round locks.