What if the Jaguars had drafted Tim Tebow?


New Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan caused quite a stir earlier this week in an interview with Action News where he affirmatively said he “100% would have” drafted Tim Tebow back in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Khan went on to clarify that he didn’t mean with the 10th pick of the draft. But it begs the question – where would the Jaguars be now if they had drafted Tim Tebow? Find out after the jump.

I’ll preface the rest of the article by letting everyone know my background. I am University of Florida alum and I was fortunate enough to be a student during Tebow’s Heisman year (2007) and the year we won the BCS title game in 2009. I was a huge Tebow fan then and I am now.

This brings up a tangential topic that has had a lot of play over the years, particularly in the QA forum on Jaguars.com (formerly with Vic Ketchman, now with John Oehser). One of the more prevalent excuses over the past several years for the Jaguars’ ticket sales has been the idea that Jacksonville is an established college football town. My response to that is so what? I’m a Jaguars fan and a Gators fan, and I feel no need to choose one over the other. The teams play on different days, it’s not as if I have to choose watching one over the other.

Another prevailing topic leading up to the 2010 NFL draft was the concept that drafting Tim Tebow would have solved the Jaguars’ problems with ticket sales. An ambitious group of marketing experts endeavored to quell this thought before the draft by saying that drafting Tim Tebow would have only provided a “marginal” boost in ticket sales (about 3,000 season tickets). In light of Tebow’s recent success, it’s popular to say that they grossly underestimated his influence.

The real question however is whether or not everything would have worked out as well for Tebow in Jacksonville. In ten years, will everyone look back and say “Wow, the Jaguars sure screwed the pooch by not drafting Tebow”? I say no.

In full disclosure, I did want the Jaguars to draft Tebow. In the third or fourth round. As a phenomenal athlete and competitor, he was definitely worth a mid-round pick as a developmental QB or a converted h-back/tight-end. But it’s pretty clear that the only way the Jaguars would have acquired Tebow was with a first round pick. So let’s play a game of “what if” and take a guess at how the Jaguars would have looked with Tebow in teal.

2010-2011: Tebow Year 1.

The Jaguars would have drafted Tim Tebow with a first round pick (either 10th or a trade back). He starts training camp as the 2nd, but more likely 3rd, string quarterback. Some Jaguar fans will remember that David Garrard was likely going to be benched for Luke McCown after David’s terrible performance in week 2 against the Chargers. Luke suffered a season-ending injury at the end of the San Diego game, so David kept his job, but can you imagine how much clamoring there would have been for Tebow to start after that? Let’s assume the coaching staff keeps David as the starter and the rest of the season plays out the same – a promising season with disappointing collapse over the last 3 games.

2011-2012: Tebow Year 2.

During a long lockout after a disappointing end to last season, Jaguar fans want to shake it up and start Tim Tebow in 2011. The fans’ chants for Tebow get even louder while David struggles during training camp and the preseason. Jaguar fans finally get what they want when David is cut the week before the regular season.

Now this is debatable, but if you replaced Blaine Gabbert with Tim Tebow this past year, the Jaguars offense would have been historically bad. I mean even worse (if it’s possible) than what we witnessed this past year. Can you imagine Tim Tebow dropping back to pass to the group of receivers we had last year? Additionally, the Jaguars would have been missing a key element on defense in Tyson Alualu, since they would’ve spent that draft pick on Tebow. Sure, the Jaguars could have completely revamped their offense like Denver did, but would it have been as effective? Denver ran a lot, but they capitalized on the defenses stacking against the run by taking shots downfield, something the Jaguars were incapable of doing. Tim would have had a more effective running back next to him in Maurice Jones-Drew, but the passing offense would have been just as inept.

2012 and beyond.

You won’t find many people who think the offense Denver used with Tebow this past year is a formula for long term success. It’s widely accepted around the league that a consistent passing game is necessary to field a competitive team and that starts with an elite quarterback. Gene Smith knew this, and that’s why he traded up to get Blaine Gabbert. He struggled his rookie year, but leading up to the draft nobody doubted he had elite passing talent.

The NFL chapter has just started for Tebow, but it seems that regardless of how his story turns out, it won’t involve any regret on the Jaguars’ part for not drafting him.

– Daniel Lago