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Tebow belongs in the NFL, but not with the Patriots

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  April 1, 2010 02:41 PM

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Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer has the right attitude, but the wrong quarterback. Hoyer was asked today about Tim Tebow and the possibility of the University of Florida's sacrosanct signal-caller ending up with the Patriots.

"Bring him. Let's go," Hoyer told reporters.

No, please don't.

The closest Tebow should come to the Patriots is the North End dinner that the polarizing quarterback prospect had with Bill Belichick and Co. on Monday night. Hopefully, that was the last supper for Tebow and the Patriots.

Such words are sacrilege among the Tebow supporters who believe that no matter where Tebow is chosen in the NFL Draft, he is the Chosen One. You're either un-American or misanthropic if you doubt Him.

"I like everything about him," said Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, a close friend of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. "If you can't root for a guy like Tebow, then, man, you don't like your kids."

But this isn't about whether you like Tebow or not, or feel he can succeed in the NFL coming out of Urban Meyer's spread offense with flawed but fixable mechanics, or whether you find his pious persona ingratiating or grating. It's about the Patriots. There is a team out there to take a chance on Tim Tebow, it just shouldn't be the one in Foxborough. Tebow is a luxury item for them, and the Patriots don't have the luxury of taking him.

If the Patriots want to remain a Super Bowl contender, they can't afford to use one of their precious top-53 picks (No. 22, No. 44, No. 47 and No. 53) on a project quarterback, even one who does missionary work in the Philippines, gives inspirational talks at prisons, is an admirable athletic role model, and was both a transcendent force and incomparable college quarterback.

There are simply too many other needs -- outside linebacker, tight end, wide receiver, defensive end, running back -- to gamble on the Gator God. A team that takes Tebow is hoping to find its patron saint. The Patriots already have one, and his name is Tom Brady. He possesses all of the intangible qualities that have been ascribed to Tebow, and is a proven NFL passer (you know that whole 50 touchdown passes thing in 2007).

The Patriots don't need to find their next QB just yet. They need to focus on helping the one they have return the team to the promise land (Super Bowl).

This is generally regarded as one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, and it is the Patriots' good fortune that it happens to coincide with them having a bundle of draft picks (12, tied with Cleveland for the most in the league). This draft will go a long way towards deciding whether the Patriots reign is really over or whether it's just in abeyance.

Some would argue that the drafting of Tebow could extend New England's run of success, a la the San Francisco 49ers following Joe Montana with Steve Young, another athletic, left-handed QB like Tebow.

Young needed to be cultivated by Bill Walsh after stints in the USFL and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his roots were as a pro-style passer. He played his college ball at pass-happy Brigham Young University. Young wasn't the college quarterback that Tebow, who became the first ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy in 2007, was, but he was a better passer. In his final season at BYU, Young threw the ball 429 times, completed 71.3 percent of his passes, and threw for 3,902 yards with 33 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

Tebow's career completion percentage at Florida is outstanding -- 66.4 percent -- and he twice threw more than 30 touchdown passes in a season, but he is closer to Vince Young than Steve Young as a pure passer. Even one of Tebow's former receivers said he is not going to be an elite NFL passer.

"He’s got every intangible that you could ever want in a quarterback," said Chan Gailey, the head coach of the Buffalo Bills, another team that dined with Tebow. "The bottom line on him is, 'Is his delivery going to keep him from being able to play? How much work is there to be done? ...How much of a change can he make because if you go with the delivery he had he will really struggle in this league?'"

People talk about Tebow's athletic ability and his ability to play another position or function as a part-time QB for the Patriots. Do you want to use a high-round pick on such a limited player? The Dolphins did that last year with another lefty QB, taking Pat White, who happens to be the NCAA's all-time leading rusher as a quarterback (4,480 yards), in the second round with the 44th pick, the same spot the Patriots have as their initial second-rounder this year.

Save for one quarter of option football against the Patriots, White had zero impact.

Tebow is a winner -- he was on two national title teams and was 35-6 as a starter in three seasons -- but so is Texas's Colt McCoy, who won an NCAA-record 45 games as a starter and just had a workout that played to rave reviews.

Tebow deserves a shot at the NFL, and he's going to get it. If he fails, it won't be for lack of opportunity or lack of dedication or lack of effort, that much we know. The rest depends on what you believe or what you want to believe about Timmy Touchdown.

Ultimately, I'm a Tebow agnostic, but what I do believe is he is not right for the Patriots.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news

Dearth

...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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