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Amidst differing opinions, Patriots shouldn’t touch Tebow

02.01.10 at 9:20 am ET
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The Patriots need to make their first four picks count in a very deep draft, not gamble them away on a player such as Tim Tebow. (AP)

The Patriots need to make their first four picks count in a very deep draft, not gamble them away on a player such as Tim Tebow. (AP)

After a very poor showing at the recent Senior Bowl (his longest pass was 11 yards and added two fumbles), some believe Tim Tebow still remains a candidate for selection in the first two rounds of April’s NFL Draft. Among the teams that have been mentioned as suitors for the polarizing Florida quarterback are the Jaguars, 49ers, Broncos, Bills and Patriots.

Recently, Peter King kicked around the idea of the Urban Meyer-Bill Belichick connection working in Tebow’s favor, as Belichick has been a “quasi-mentor” to the Florida quarterback. With all of the uncertainty surrounding Tebow’s NFL credentials, is the Meyer connection — the same one that brought such duds as Chad Jackson and Jeremy Mincey to New England — enough?

The biggest question at the moment regarding Tebow is which position he will play in the NFL. Some see him as a quarterback who will be utilized best in the Wildcat, while others see him as a fullback, tight end (his position at his first high school), or H-back, similar to Chris Cooley of the Redskins. Regardless of which position Tebow plays at the next level, when looking at the overall landscape in New England and the players who will be available when the Patriots make their first four picks, it’s pretty simple: Tebow to the Patriots does not make one shred of sense.

First, this is not a draft in which the Patriots should be willing to take first- or second-round risks. Belichick and friends set themselves up very nicely last year by securing four of the top 53 picks in a very deep 2010 draft. They can land starters at positions of need with each of their first four picks without moving up or down.

Pass-rushing linebacker who can play on the line every so often? Clemson’s Ricky Sapp or Michigan’s Brandon Graham at No. 22. Cornerback? Oklahoma State’s Perrish Cox and Boise State’s Kyle Wilson are just two of the very attractive second-round options. Running back? Take your pick between Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer, Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews and Mississippi’s Dexter McCluster, as all three may be there by the time the Patriots are on the clock in Round 2. Guard options are there. Tight end options are there. Linebacker options are there — a guy such as Kentucky’s Micah Johnson could step in and start after being chosen with the 53rd pick.

The Patriots have needs in this draft bigger than anything they’ve faced since the 2001 draft. The guys they need are going to be there. Why sacrifice filling the holes for the sake of trying out Tebow in a new position?

In most ways, the biggest thing Tebow has going for him entering this draft is the fact that he is a big name and that he will sell tickets. As a result, he could go as high as 10th overall to the Jaguars, who desperately need the attendance boost for the sake of not having their home games blacked out. The Patriots don’t need to sell tickets, as is evidenced by their season ticket waiting list.

“Star power is incredible, and Tebow is an iconic figure,” Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said back in September. “That’s very compelling. He clearly is an outstanding football player and would be an asset to any football organization.”

These are the same Jaguars who reached for an intriguing former quarterback turned receiver in the first round in ’05 (Matt Jones) and saw it blow up in their face. In a time when Belichick’s drafting has been heavily scrutinized, the Patriots actually have it right: Save the experiments (Matt Cassel, Julian Edelman) for the tail end of the draft.

As a quarterback, Tebow could have all the makings of a train wreck in the NFL. His poor Senior Bowl performance, coupled with what must be concerns over whether he can take snaps under center, are potential red flags. Tebow was an outstanding college quarterback — one of the best of this generation — but Jason White and Chris Leak are just two of many examples of great college quarterbacks whose talents didn’t project to the NFL. They don’t let you bring your Heisman on the field in the NFL, so throw the college accolades out the window.

ESPN draft guru Todd McShay agrees, saying he is “convinced” of the fact that Tebow does not have the makings of an NFL quarterback. Geoff Hobson has scouts from multiple teams saying Tebow was the worst quarterback at the Senior Bowl. A trend is developing. Eyes are being opened on one of the greatest college quarterbacks inching toward being an NFL disaster.

“We have not spoken to a single talent evaluator who believes Tebow can develop into the kind of quarterback Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford or Joe Flacco is right now,” McShay wrote following the Senior Bowl. “The learning curve is just too steep in almost every area. We cannot find a way to give him any higher than a third-round grade, and even then we envision him as nothing more than a Wildcat or short-yardage quarterback who could move to H-back. Overall, Senior Bowl week could not have gone worse from an on-the-field standpoint.”

Then there is the question of converting Tebow to another position. Tight end? How is his blocking? Considering the last person who saw him block was coach Verlon Dorminey of Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville six years ago, it’s difficult to project. Tebow does have his believers, though, and Dorminey is one of them.

“I bet all the money I’ve got in my pocket that there’s not a stronger tight end,” Dorminey told WEEI.com. “The kid is phenomenal in the weight room. Could he block? Heck, yeah. Can he catch the ball? Heck, yeah. Would he be tough over the middle? Without a doubt, so if he does that at the next level, there’s no doubt in my mind he could do it and do it well.”

Dorminey’s high praise for Tebow, whom he coached for three years at quarterback, tight end, and linebacker, carries weight. In addition to winning (including a state championship with the freshman Tebow), Dorminey has seen his former players go pro, including former Patriot Guss Scott.

“I don’t think the Patriots could go wrong by taking him in the first or second round,” added Dorminey, who believes that Tebow should first be given a shot at quarterback before changing positions. “The kid has an inate ability to win and direct in that locker room like a head coach would want it to be done. You put him in that leadership role, I can promise you he won’t let anybody down there.”

Tebow is intriguing as a fullback or a strictly pass-receiving tight end, but David Thomas, whom the Patriots drafted in the third round in ’06 out of Texas, makes such a high selection of Tebow in the role illogical. Vince Young’s captain and favorite target had good hands and was a solid route-runner, but the Patriots gave up on the frequently injured and poor-blocking Thomas prior the ’09 season, shipping him to New Orleans for a seventh-round pick.

Thomas has fit in nicely with the Saints, but his poor fit with the Patriots is a perfect illustration of why Tebow wouldn’t work as a tight end in New England. In fact, Thomas might be the perfect NFL comparison for Tebow, assuming the former Gator can catch and run decent-enough routes. At best, Tebow will run in the high 4.6 range, which will match up closely to Thomas’ 4.67 40-yard dash at the ’06 combine.  In addition, Tebow’s 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame is nearly identical to that of Thomas (6-foot-3, 248 pounds). The only difference between the two is that Thomas spent his college career catching passes from a future NFL Pro Bowl quarterback.

Cross off quarterback. Cross off tight end (for the Patriots, at least). Considering that teams need him for the attendance, the Patriots can’t be looking to secure their fullback of the future in the first or second round. Cross off fullback. Cross off Tebow.

Read More: 2010 NFL Draft, Tim Tebow, Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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