Posted: 9:03 am Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

NFL.com, ESPN battle over Tebow’s 2010 NFL Draft Projection 

By Post Staff

Ed’s note: Follow Ben on Twitter! twitter.com/GatorBenPBP

AP

AP

In the corner to my left, we have Gil Brandt, the architect of the Tom Landry Dallas Cowboys and now a senior NFL Draft analyst for NFL.com. To my right, we have ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, who have great hair.

The topic: Tim Tebow’s 2010 NFL Draft stock.

Now let’s keep it clean, and come out fighting!

There may be no more polarizing figure in next year’s draft than Tebow, who has put up “Star Wars” stats in the past two years, to use Urban Meyer’s favorite phrase, but did it in an unconventional offense.

And that polarization is playing out on the top NFL Draft Web sites, who simply agree to disagree on Tebow’s potential as an NFL quarterback.

If you listen to Brandt, who was the Cowboys’ vice president of player personnel from 1960 to 1988, then Tebow will be a top 10 pick next April. In his series of position rankings, Brandt named Tebow the No. 1 quarterback prospect in next year’s draft, ahead of Texas’ Colt McCoy.

Brandt doesn’t include underclassmen, so he leaves Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford out of the rankings, but says Bradford will be “a top prospect if he chooses to come out.” As for Tebow, Brandt writes:

Tebow will be a third-year starter in 2009. He has thrown 67 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions in the past three years. He will have a new quarterback coach this year, Scot Loeffler, who came from the NFL. Tebow should be a top-10 pick in the 2010 draft.

But ESPN is banging a different drum. You know that Kiper has been driving the anti-Tebow bandwagon for the past two years — “I don’t think he can be a full-time quarterback. I don’t think he can be the quarterback of the future for you, but I do think in the third round, maybe the second round,” Kiper said in April. — and McShay is right there with him.

McShay does not have Tebow listed at all in his early 2010 mock first round. Instead, McShay lists Bradford as the No. 1 overall pick for next season. Bradford was believed by many to be the top prospect in the 2009 draft but returned to Oklahoma for his red-shirt junior season.

Note: McShay seems to have a bit of a Big 12 bias. His first seven picks of 2010 are all from the Big 12, including four from Oklahoma. Why even play the games this year, if Oklahoma is so stacked?

Why do Kiper and McShay have such tepid feelings about Tebow? The kid did throw 30 touchdowns against four interceptions last year while completing 64.4 percent of passes and leading his team to a national championship.

“He can throw the ball adequately for the college level, no question about it,” Kiper said in April. But “He has a slow delivery. His arm strength, if you look at it, he bounces some passes down the field.”

I would counter by telling Kiper to watch the replay of last year’s SEC Championship against Alabama. Tebow’s three touchdowns were all NFL-quality throws into tight passing windows, plus that 33-yard bomb to Murphy had a nice feather touch to it.

Kiper and McShay seem poised to stick to their anti-Tebow sentiments, no matter how well he plays. And who knows, maybe they are right?

Of course, we can debate Tebow until our faces turn blue, but plenty will change after the 2009 season is complete.

What will be interesting to watch is if Kiper and McShay change their tune about Tebow as the season progresses.

Why would they do that? For one, ESPN secured SEC television rights for this season. Tebow will now be playing games on ESPN. The network will now be selling ad space based in part on Tebow’s presence. Tebow is now one of their own.

ESPN had the Big 12′s TV rights last year, and McShay has the top seven picks coming from the Big 12. Just sayin’….