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Could Patriots Go “Wild Pat” in 2010?

Tim Tebow

In the spirit of this Sunday’s game against the Dolphins I would like to talk wildcat, or in this instance, wildpat. There is no doubt that in the 2010 draft we will see one of the most interesting prospects turn pro and his name is Tim Tebow.

I can hear all the groans now – ‘Not another Tebow story, I hate that god-loving, virgin!’ By the way, can we really believe that Tim Tebow, the star quarterback at the University of Florida is still a virgin? In a world where Tiger Woods can get caught juggling three girlfriends and a wife at the same time, I don’t know what I can or cannot believe anymore.

Back to the point, and that is that Tim Tebow could be suiting up for the Patriots next year. Sources have said that Bill Belichick has grown very fond of Tebow from sitting in on Gators’ practices and according to several reports, Belichick has developed a great relationship over the years with Florida head coach Urban Meyer.

Overall, Tebow isn’t your prototypical quarterback because he is a better runner than he is a thrower, but he brings a lot to the table that you cannot teach – including leadership and work ethic. Scouts, Inc. gives Tebow a grade of 83, which pegs him as a second-round talent. The big knock on him is his accuracy on short-to-intermediate routes and his slow release. ESPN’s NFL draft guru’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Tebow going anywhere from the second round to the fourth round. It will probably take a second round pick to get him and the Patriots have three of them in 2010 so they are in great position to take a gamble on the Florida quarterback. However, the question remains, is he a good fit for the Patriots?

Why the Patriots should draft Tim Tebow

1. Low Risk, High Reward. There are very few guarantees in the second round. If you don’t believe me then take a look at the second round draft picks since 2000. Out of the 224 players selected in the second round from 2000-2006, only 32 have made a pro bowl appearance, which translates to 14 percent. Some may say that Belichick has a better eye for talent, which may be the case but his “success” rate in the second round has shown us differently. In that same time span, Belichick drafted seven players in the second round and only one player (Matt Light) made a pro bowl appearance. The list: Adrian Klemm, Matt Light, Deion Branch, Eugene Wilson, Bethel Johnson, Marquise Hill and Chad Jackson. As a matter of fact, Light is the only one left on the Patriot’s 2009 roster.

The point is there’s no guarantee that a second round pick is going to make a huge difference so why not use it on a player who you know can help you even if it’s in a very limited role? Also, there’s no reason why Tebow can’t develop into a fine player in the future, which would give the Patriots some options should they (gulp) have to make a decision between him and an aging Tom Brady in the future.

2. Great in short yardage situations. On the University of Florida’s athletics website, Tebow is listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, which makes him bigger than most mobile quarterbacks. His build and running ability makes him ideal in short yardage situations and with Belichick’s increasing propensity to go for it on fourth downs, Tebow would be a very welcomed asset to this offense. He has the build of a fullback but plays quarterback, which puts him in the very rare power-running quarterback category. When we think of mobile quarterbacks, flashes of Mike Vick or Vince Young bolting through defenses come to mind, but Tebow is one who grinds out the tough yards in  between the tackles.

In his collegiate career (through Dec. 4, 2009), Tebow has managed a respectable 4.3 yards per carry on 668 attempts. Sure he’s taken a beating in college, but it’s not like he will be carrying the ball 20+ times a game. He is definitely in line for a decreased workload, which could make him even more effective.

3. He could prolong Brady’s career. A lot of fans seem to just brush aside the idea that the Brady era is coming to an end. It seems like it was just yesterday when Brady led this team to a Super Bowl win over the heavily favored Rams in 2001, but the harsh reality is that Brady is already 32 years old and has had major reconstructive surgery on his knee. Who knows how much longer he has in the NFL – it could be four years or it could be seven years. Tim Tebow could give Brady a couple breathers every game or even take over in the fourth quarter during blowouts. Either way he could help take some of the workload from Tom Brady and keep him in the league a couple more seasons.

Answering criticisms of drafting Tim Tebow

1. Why take the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands? This is a legitimate argument along the lines of ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ Well, Belichick always welcomes players that give his team a decided advantage and Tebow would certainly do just that. Opposing teams would have to game plan against two entirely different quarterbacks each game and I’m sure Belichick and Co. would have a field day coming up with two-quarterback formations. Also, it’s not  like Tebow is going to  be attempting more than 10 passes a game. He would only play maybe 8-15 snaps a game and who’s to say that Tebow’s plays don’t cut into Laurence Maroney’s carries rather than Brady’s throws? Brady will still get his 35+ attempts per game there’s no doubt about that.

2. A lot of scouts are saying Tebow is better fit as a tight end or defensive end. It’s true that a lot of scouts believe Tebow would be better fit in another position, but let’s be honest here. Do you think Tebow is going to switch to the defense or tight end? He would seriously lack the size and be at a disadvantage at those positions. Tebow has a lot of things working for him and that is he has amazing work ethic and motivation to learn. He isn’t a cocky player who thinks he’s the best at his position and would welcome playing for a coach he respects and trusts. If he has the right attitude, which he does, he could learn a lot about the quarterback position from Tom Brady and his coaches.

3. There is a  more pressing need on defense than at backup QB. It’s no secret that the Patriots need more help on defense than they do on offense so it is a valid argument that Bill Belichick should use early draft picks to secure good defensive players. I actually agree with this statement to an extent because if there is a player available in the second round who can help this team right away then I would want Belichick to grab him over Tebow. However, I mentioned before that the second round has very few guarantees and while Tebow is no guarantee to become an All-Pro NFL quarterback, he is guaranteed to help this offense in some way in 2010. That, to me, is worth one of our three second round picks.

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