We are now exactly one week until the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and all signs point to Tim Tebow going in the 1st round.
The leading indicator: Is Tebow being listed in the 1st round of the leading mock drafts? We already know Kiper has upgraded Tebow to a top-of-the-2nd (yet still too low!) 41st to the Bills.
See the update at the end of the post about Mike Mayock's projection.
Here is a prediction:
When the official Sports Illustrated NFL mock draft comes out, all signs point to Peter King having Tim Tebow in the 1st round.
That is for a couple reasons: (1) Things he is hearing from GMs; (2) his "gut"; and (3) it is entirely costless -- yet entirely provocative -- for him to put Tebow in the 1st.
It's not like Peter King is going to lose his job -- or credibility -- by putting Tebow in the 1st round of a mock draft.
Anyway: Based on the excitement in Gainesville last week, King could have Tebow going to the Vikings with the No. 30 pick.
If he wanted to make it more realistic, I think he would have to include a trade-up to make it work -- the most likely suitors remain cachet-less teams desperate for a "face," like the Bills or Browns, not playoff teams.
But when King does list Tebow as a 1st-rounder, he will effectively set the new market for Tebow's draft stock as a 1st-rounder. And the rest of the draftniks will follow along.
Again: See Mayock update below.
(It's worth noting that several mocks already have Tebow as a 1st-rounder: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has him going 9th to the Bills, which I think is highly unlikely. The USA Today panel of mockers includes a few votes for the Vikings at 30 and one for the Pats at 22.)
But the majority of mocks still have Tebow as a 2nd-round pick, largely seeming to take their cue from Kiper's 41st, which I see as a floor. For example, Sporting News has Tebow going No. 39 to the Raiders.
(It is now laughable for any NFL writer or draft analyst to mention "3rd round" or use phrasing like "could go as high as the 2nd round." They are three months behind. With all due respect to Charlie Casserly, he sounds inane saying he wouldn't take Tebow in the first three rounds -- which is irrelevant to projecting where he WILL be taken -- and that he hasn't talked with teams without a QB need who would take him early -- gee, no kidding! How about the teams that DO need a QB, precisely the ones that will take him in the 1st round or early 2nd.)
Use my latest Tebow draft projections as a guide:
Some mocks will have the Browns take him with the 6th pick of the 2nd round. You may see a few having him go 5th in the round to the Eagles. The more interesting draftniks will include a trade-out by one of the four teams picking at the top of the 2nd who clearly don't need Tebow.
But when King takes "Tebow-as-1st-rounder" to the mainstream, you will see mock draft revisions that put him into the back of the 1st round.
I see Tebow to the Vikings at No. 30 to be a realistic possibility -- more realistic, however, is the scenario that the Bills trade up into the 20s to get Tebow. (And, if they can't -- and if the Vikings pass on Tebow at 30 -- Buffalo trading up to 31 or 32 to avoid the overnight scrum that will define the top of the 2nd round.)
Obviously, I have become very bullish on the Bills taking Tebow (or, at least, trying to get Tebow).
Tim Tebow as a 1st-round NFL Draft pick is nearly here -- at least in the mock-draft world.
Reality comes a week from tonight.
UPDATE: I should credit NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock -- bullish on Tebow from the beginning -- for pegging Tebow to the Vikings at No. 30 and doing it yesterday. I may have to re-jigger my own Tebow draft scenario ranking to reflect this new conventional wisdom....