NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Tim Tebow’s versatility could give the Jets some flexibility when it’s time for them to pick in the NFL draft.
The athletic backup quarterback is expected to have several roles on offense with the Jets after they acquired him from the Denver Broncos last month. While general manager Mike Tannenbaum downplayed the effect Tebow’s presence likely would have on who New York selects, it’s something the team might keep in mind next week.
“He’s our backup quarterback, so that’s how we’re listing him, and that’s how we’re going to carry him on our roster,” Tannenbaum said Thursday while discussing the Jets’ preparations for the draft. “That could be more of a, I’d say, like a subtle tiebreaker, knowing that he has unique skill sets and athleticism. But in terms of how we are looking at our strategy, he’s clearly at quarterback for us, and that’s how we’re listing him.”
The Jets have 10 picks in the three-day draft which starts next Thursday, including the 16th overall selection.
Coach Rex Ryan hinted Wednesday that it might not come down to filling a need. The team may instead pick the top talent on the board, no matter how stacked New York may seem at the position.
“If you just try to reach for a need, sometimes that’s not the best thing to do,” Ryan said. “Take the best player, that usually works out for you.”
Since trading for the popular Tebow last month, the Jets have insisted he will be Mark Sanchez’s backup, but will be a key part of the offense while playing in wildcat packages and could see time as a running back/fullback.
Because of his versatility, Tebow could be on the field for about 20 snaps a game, with several of those possibly coming in an option or wildcat-style offense. Still, the Jets said that also won’t greatly affect their approach in terms of drafting skill players with experience in those types of offenses.
And that’s despite the fact left guard Matt Slauson told reporters Monday before being honored at an event in Manhattan that the Jets’ offense is setting up “like we’re going to be two separate teams” because of having both Sanchez and Tebow.
“From an offensive standpoint, it’s important that we’re lining up in one offense, we have one Jets offense,” vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales said. “So that being said, you want the best wide receiver available, the best offensive guard available, the best tight end available. We aren’t going to specifically draft a guy or not draft a guy because of what that particular player might do — especially if he’s the backup.”
Tannenbaum wouldn’t even rule out the team drafting a quarterback at some point, despite the fact the Jets already have Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy, New York’s seventh-round pick who spent his rookie season on injured reserve after dislocating his right thumb in the preseason.
“Sure,” Tannenbaum said when asked if the Jets would look at that position in the draft. “We’ve kept four (quarterbacks) before.”
That seems unlikely, though, especially with all the other holes the Jets have. New York is expected by many to focus on defense with its first-round pick, with players mentioned as possibilities including Alabama safety Mark Barron and linebacker Courtney Upshaw, defensive ends Melvin Ingram of South Carolina and Quinton Coples of North Carolina, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe of Memphis.
Then again, given Tannenbaum’s reputation for wheeling and dealing on draft day, the Jets could be sitting somewhere other than No. 16 by the time they pick next Thursday.
“Could we slide up or back? We’re certainly going to be open to all scenarios,” Tannenbaum said. “We’re happy at 16. Those are the cards we’ve been dealt, and we’ll maximize those opportunities.”
Tannenbaum also sidestepped questions whether the team would be open to negotiating a new contract for cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has two years left on the four-year deal he signed in 2010.
“Darrelle is under contract,” Tannenbaum said. “Darrelle is obviously a really important part of our team, and we look forward to the 2012 season and hopefully accomplishing a lot of great things together.”
Notes: Tannenbaum said this is a “critical offseason” for OL Vladimir Ducasse, the team’s second-round pick out of UMass in 2010 who hasn’t lived up to expectations. … After choosing not to re-sign WR Braylon Edwards last summer, Tannenbaum said the Jets are “open and not closed” to the possibility of bringing him back. Edwards, a free agent, signed with San Francisco last year but was cut late in the season after being hampered by a knee injury. … Tannenbaum wants to find the next Jeremy Lin, the Knicks guard who went from obscurity to “Linsanity” in the NBA before being injured, and thinks G Caleb Schlauderaff or LB Ricky Sapp could potentially make that type of impact for the Jets.
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