There is a force out there in sports -- call it the "draftnik-industrial complex" -- that has tried to entrench itself as the experts in the NFL Draft: Analysis, grades, etc.
And Tim Tebow must drive them crazy.
He is the most prominent draft prospect in the recent history of the NFL Draft. Therefore, they HAVE to have an opinion about him.
For the most part, the draftniks (the combination of mostly anonymous scouts and independent draft experts) have not been kind: They are quick to praise Tebow's "intangibles," but essentially gut his skill-set, at least for the role of NFL quarterback.
Maybe that's fair, maybe it's not. Maybe they are being extra-harsh because they get more attention if they are bearish on his potential.
They make pronouncements, like giving him a grade as a "3rd-rounder," maybe 2nd-rounder. Todd McShay makes it sound like he is being forced to upgrade Tebow to an early-2nd-rounder. (He uses the made-up word "overdraft" -- expect to hear that a lot in the next few months.)
Here's the thing that must drive the draftniks crazy:
Because of his popularity, his regional tie to north Florida and Jacksonville's position in the Top 10 of the draft, Tebow will very likely be a Top 10 pick.
We can definitely argue about whether that is a reach for the Jaguars -- or to what extent marketing should ever come into play for a team making a 1st-round selection.
But what is obvious is that the draftniks look like fools if Tebow goes in the Top 10 -- heck, if he goes in the 1st round. Because it means that they are being ignored.
And here's the insidious part of the whole thing: If draftniks are ignored, they are irrelevant. They are exactly what their critics claim they are -- something that draftniks fight like crazy to beat back.
It's almost Zen-like: If the draftnik has a prospect graded as a 3rd-rounder and the player goes in the 1st, does the draftnik make a sound?
Here is where we get into a seemingly odd dynamic: At some point, the draftnik must reconcile their "mock" draft with... "reality."
No one cares about the grades -- they care about the mock. And if you say Jimmy Clausen is going No. 10 to the Jags and Tebow isn't taken until the mid-2nd round, and Tebow actually goes No. 10 to the Jags, you are -- more than anything -- wrong.
And while draftniks are historically wrong about their mocks to a staggering degree, this would be particularly, egregiously wrong.
Consequently, there is a moment of cognitive dissonance: The experts' honest-to-God opinion and the "reality" of the very mock drafts that have made the draftniks so popular to begin with.
The draftnik must decide if they would rather be right or reflect reality -- ultimately, reflecting reality IS being right, whether the draftnik agrees with it or not.
So the draftnik enters a vicious cycle: Right but wrong or wrong but right?
And, to make this all the more absurd, we're all of 24 hours into this process.
(I promise that unless I think Tebow is the lead story of the day -- and it did lead my SN column today in part because he was the lead story on SN.com -- I will keep most of my Tebow analysis to TimTeblog.com. That said: It's not me -- Peter King, Chris Mortenson, all the ESPN draft folks, all the NFL Network draft folks... they all recognize Tebow as the story everyone wants to talk about. The irony, as I noted on Twitter yesterday, is that he's going to go No. 10 to the Jags and we'll all wonder what the fuss was about.)
More in today's column:
*Preview of LeBron-Wade combo in Miami next season!
*Syracuse has the goods to beat Kentucky in March.
*Ben Sheets is NOT "Moneyball."
*Sick of the Super Bowl storylines yet?
Complete column here. More later.