Address need in the second round
John Elway, the Broncos' new executive vice president, is doing the right thing by investigating the quarterbacks in this draft. But this isn't the right year for him to take one in the first round with the No. 2 pick.
Year 1 of the Elway regime should focus on rebuilding the credibility of a once-proud franchise. Drafting a future Hall of Fame quarterback such as Elway is the fastest ticket to rebuilding a franchise, but this class of draftable quarterbacks doesn't hold the solution.
Auburn's Cam Newton may be the only quarterback with elite potential, but it will take time for him to develop, and he will probably go to the Carolina Panthers with the first pick. Blaine Gabbert of Missouri might be a better version of Mark Sanchez, but many don't believe he will become an elite quarterback.
It would help the Broncos more to take cornerback Patrick Peterson or defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to give new head coach John Fox a top defensive player. Fox isn't the kind of coach who likes to be burdened with rushing a rookie quarterback into service. We saw that last year when the Panthers took Jimmy Clausen in the second round.
Drafting a quarterback in the second round is a different story. The Broncos have two second-round choices, so they can select another potential starter for the defense, giving them the luxury of drafting a quarterback of the future with the extra pick. If Elway signs off on Jake Locker, Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton in the second round, it wouldn't be a bad move.
Tim Tebow, last year's first-round pick, is more developmental than functional as a starter, and there is no guarantee he can become an elite -- or even a successful -- starting quarterback. You get the feeling that Elway and Fox aren't sold on Tebow as a franchise-level quarterback. Kyle Orton is a good quarterback, but he might be traded once the league and players work out a collective bargaining agreement.
Orton has only one year left on his contract, and even if he stays, it's unlikely he will get a contract extension. Drafting a quarterback wouldn't be a bad idea. Taking one in the first round, though, would be.
Give Tebow a shot, and rebuild the D
One of the most intriguing developments in the NFL this offseason is the Denver Broncos' investigation of quarterback prospects despite the fact that they drafted Tim Tebow in the first round last year.
The Broncos, who have three picks in the first 46 choices, including No. 2 overall, have met with or have worked out several of the top quarterback prospects. If the defense-starved Broncos take a quarterback in the early rounds, it would be the story of that round -- and it would essentially end the Tebow era in Denver after three starts.
It's fascinating. But it is also unnecessary. It would be a complete waste of a premium draft pick if Denver takes a quarterback in the first two rounds.
The Broncos need to give Tebow a chance to play before they decide he can't be the answer. The Broncos, who were 4-12 last season, are totally rebuilding as they begin the John Fox era. There are no serious expectations that this team will be a contender this season.
It's the perfect time to give Tebow the ball. He started the three final games of his rookie season and he did pretty well. His teammates responded well to him. Yes, he was raw, but we knew he would be. There were no indications in the three-game stretch that Tebow was completely overmatched.
Tebow has a special work ethic and will give the Broncos everything he has. If he fails, Denver will have its answer, and then it could pursue a quarterback next year, perhaps having a chance to grab Stanford's Andrew Luck. If Tebow succeeds, the Broncos will be set at quarterback for years to come.
Denver needs to use the majority of its picks in this draft on defense. It was last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010. The Broncos will be on the right track if they take a couple of defensive linemen and perhaps a safety in the first two rounds. It wouldn't make sense to bypass a pressing defensive need to take another developmental quarterback. Addressing its biggest needs and reserving judgment on the future of the quarterback position is the only prudent way to go in Denver.