When the Denver Broncos chose to go with Peyton Manning as their quarterback of the near future over Tim Tebow, very few questioned their decision. While Tebow had just led Denver on an improbable run to the divisional round of the playoffs, Manning is a future Hall of Famer who has already won a Super Bowl. Opportunities like that don’t come around all that often for a franchise, so the Broncos had to strike.
But would they have stuck with Tebow even if they missed out on Manning? According to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, the Broncos were prepared to draft Brandon Weeden if Manning chose not to sign with Denver. From the Post:
The Broncos liked Weeden’s NFL-ready game. They like his maturity; he was, after a stint in minor league baseball before he arrived at Oklahoma State, 28 years old before the draft. And they liked his ability to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
Elway particularly liked the fact Weeden already understood what it took to be a professional athlete and thought that would serve Weeden well in the inevitable struggles that come on the job.
The Broncos traded Tebow two days after signing Manning, so many will argue that Tebow was simply a victim of circumstance. However, you don’t draft a 28-year-old rookie with the intention of letting him hold a clipboard for a few years and develop into an NFL starter. Like the Cleveland Browns, it’s safe to say Denver intended to use Weeden right away if they drafted him. In hindsight, it sounds as though John Elway and the Broncos may have felt the same way about Tebow as the Jets do now.