The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to do the seemingly impossible in converting former first-round quarterback Tim Tebow into a tight end — even though he hasn’t played in a regular-season NFL game since 2012.
Despite how much of a long shot Tebow’s comeback seems to be, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport went on “The Pat McAfee Show” and reported that Tebow’s chances to make the final 53-man roster are 50-50.
Rapoport also alluded to the buzz that Jacksonville plans to deploy Tebow not only at tight end, but at a variety of spots on the gridiron, similarly to how Taysom Hill has been used on the New Orleans Saints.
Versatility, high football character and intangibles can endear a player to an organization and allow him to stick around for longer than expected. In Tebow’s case, his unique relationship to Jaguars coach Urban Meyer definitely works in his favor and is part of the reason Rapoport believes the 33-year-old Tebow can make the final roster cuts.
Tebow’s Meyer connection seems like the only reason he has a crack at returning to the NFL.
Meyer is trying to build a credible, winning culture in Duval. To do that, he can’t put too much of a priority on his Tebow passion project at the expense of other key areas.
No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence is the quarterback, and the more snaps he can be on the field in a traditional NFL offense, the better it’ll be for fast-tracking his development. Getting Lawrence out of rhythm with gimmicky, gadget Tebow plays is a real recipe for disaster unless it really works.
The Jaguars should make sure Tebow concentrates on mastering the tight end position, because route-running and blocking are going to be hard enough. It’s good to be versatile, but wearing too many hats too early could actually sabotage Tebow’s NFL return and Jacksonville’s progress as an offense at the same time.
Maybe once Tebow proves he can earn his way as a backup tight end, then install a trick play or two here or there throughout the season if things are going well. Otherwise, the Jags and Meyer are setting themselves up for unnecessary, entirely avoidable criticism — and it may lower Lawrence’s rookie-year ceiling.
Tebow is a lightning rod for attention and buzz, which isn’t a bad thing for a Jaguars franchise that’s in one of the smallest markets in all of major sports. On the other hand, the Jags already have plenty to make their fans excited with Lawrence’s arrival and an overhauled roster.
The Jags must tread with caution, because Meyer needs to make a smooth, swift transition to the NFL. If he doesn’t, history tells us his tenure in Jacksonville may be short-lived, and the Tebow saga could wind up being an embarrassing footnote.