Three weeks from today, we will know whether Tim Tebow is selected as a 1st-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
And signs point to Tebow sliding up from the top of the 2nd round into the 1st round.
If you consider that the conventional draftnik consensus is that Tebow is a 3rd- or 4th-round talent whose "intangibles" inflate his value to the 2nd round (always caveated with a "maybe"), it is nothing short of remarkable that Tebow is very much in the mix as a 1st-round pick (except to those of us who study the Tebow draft dynamic closely).
Let's look at the two prevailing scenarios that put him in the 1st round:
Scenario 1: He is taken in the top half of the 1st round of the Draft by the Bills (at No. 9) or the Jaguars (at No. 10) or, perhaps, by the Seahawks (at No. 14).
Appropriately enough for a player whose career is defined by superlatives, any of these scenarios would make it the most controversial draft pick in NFL history.
*The Bills are desperate enough for a "face" of the franchise -- not to mention a QB -- that they just might do it. If they want to be talked about, THIS would make them talked about.
*The Jaguars, oddly, have been very quiet -- perhaps too quiet -- about Tebow, perhaps glad that almost all of the public pressure (or presumption) to take him has dissipated.
*The Seahawks are motivated to create their own new direction under Pete Carroll. With a 1st-round pick in the Top 10, they could get a "need" player first, easing the pressure if they take a "want" player like Tebow. (Then again, Seattle just traded for Charlie Whitehurst.)
Scenario 2: He is taken at the end of the 1st round. Again: That Tebow is a 1st-round NFL pick -- at all, regardless of draft slot -- will be the story of the draft.
It is hard to pinpoint a particular team that might take him before the 1st round is over. But let's look at three options:
*Team uses its natural draft position: The Patriots draft 22nd, the Cowboys draft 27th, the defending champ Saints draft 32nd. All are confident enough to make a big splash.
*Team trades back: You could envision the Jaguars trading back from No. 10; picking Tebow in the late-20s feels much less controversial for Jacksonville than at No. 10.
*Team trades up: 1st-round picks cost a lot more in guaranteed contract than 2nd-round picks, but there are plenty of contenders who would rather stockpile late-round picks in exchange for their late-1st-round pick, swapping with a team that wants Tebow.
(Alternatively, the Patriots have 3 2nd-round picks -- plus Oakland's 1st-round pick in 2011 -- and could put together the package to trade up into the back of the 1st round. Then again, that seems very out-of-character for Belichick, who is a pick stock-piler.)
Here is where we net out -- three weeks away:
I originally thought Tebow was a lock to the Jags at No. 10. I eventually revised that, then assumed he would slip all the way through the 1st round -- but then get snapped up right at the top of the 2nd round, after a frenzy of deal-making in between the 1st and 2nd rounds.
But my other presumption has been that Tebow's draft stock is not going down -- only up. If his current floor is the top of the 2nd, the only movement will be into the 1st round.
I would be surprised -- but not shocked -- to see Tebow go to the Bills at No. 9 overall. I would be shocked -- but not surprised -- to see Tebow go to the Jaguars at No. 10 overall.
And I would not be surprised or shocked to see a team take Tebow before the 1st round is over.
The inaugural Thursday night primetime 1st round of the NFL Draft may start with the big story being Sam Bradford being drafted by the Rams (or perhaps forcing a trade to the Redskins).
But by the time the 1st round is over, the biggest story will be about which team has taken Tebow in the 1st round.
(If he isn't taken -- and by the time we get to three weeks from now, I am fairly convinced that the conventional wisdom will be that he IS going to be taken in the 1st round -- the big storyline will be which teams are angling to take him at the top of the 2nd round the next day.)
UPDATE: The Falcons GM, Tom Dimitroff, told Tom Curran of NESN that Tebow won't make it out of the 1st round. Now, all pre-draft commentary from team executives should be run through a b.s. filter, but a guy who has Matt Ryan probably speaks more genuinely about QBs in the draft than GMs who actually need a QB.
UPDATE 2: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has Tebow going to the Bills with the No. 9 overall pick of the draft.