Football is a team sport, and Tim Tebow is a team player.
Belichick on where Tebow will play: "We'll use Tim wherever we feels it's best for the team. ... He's got a great work ethic. Great."— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 26, 2013
It takes 11 men working together as a cohesive unit to achieve greatness, though there are certain positions that typically trump the rest when discussing "value."
On offense, the position of quarterback trumps all others, which is why many people have questioned why the New England Patriots took a chance on signing Tebow this offseason.
Tom Brady is as entrenched as any quarterback in the league as the team's starting quarterback, and third-year signal-caller Ryan Mallett is quietly working behind the scenes at the No. 2 spot. Last season, the Patriots didn't even carry a third quarterback.
Anyone who has kept track of Tebow's NFL career knows he struggles with accuracy both in practice and during games. In particular, the former Heisman winner tends to look atrocious during practice sessions.
Watching him toss the ball around during the first few days of Patriots camp, it's clear he still struggles with mechanical issues during practice, as noted by Bleacher Report's Dan Hope and CSNNE.com's Tom Curran:
Seeing Tim Tebow in person today, lack of zip on his throws and awkward mechanics really noticeable compared to Brady/Mallett. #Patriots— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) July 26, 2013
Practice over. Tebow horrendous. #patriotstalk— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) July 26, 2013
Therefore, it seems safe to assume that Tebow must do one of two things to make the team's final roster this year: He must either improve his value as a backup quarterback or he must find another way to make himself invaluable to the Patriots.
During the team's first practice session this summer, Belichick had Tebow lining up with receivers and running backs during pass-catching drills, as noted by Breer, who also reported he saw Tebow catching a pass from Mallett in a drill he's "never seen before":
Tebow's still catching passes ... Lining up with back and receivers in a (non-contact) tackling drill.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 26, 2013
Tebow just a caught a ball from Mallett in a weird new drill I've never seen before. #AlertTheRubberneckers— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 26, 2013
Given the team's lack of options at the tight end/H-back position, Tebow could make an immediate impact for the Patriots as a non-quarterback this season.
Rob Gronkowski is still in recovery from his back/arm surgeries, and there is no time table on his return, as noted by Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com. Jake Ballard is the only other experienced tight end on the team's roster, and he is trying to make a successful comeback after missing the entire 2012 season with a knee injury.
There is no better time for Tebow to prove his worth as a football player and competitor than the present.
Though his dream is, and always has been, to forge a long-term career at the quarterback position in the NFL, the former Gators star has a prime opportunity to redefine his career in 2013.
With his size, athleticism and hard-nosed style with the ball in his hands, Tebow has the potential to become a legitimate role player as a tight end or H-back.
The best part about this arrangement is that in doing so, Tebow doesn't have to abandon his dream. He can still devote time and effort to honing his craft at the quarterback position learning under Tom Brady—one of the most technically sound and detail-oriented quarterbacks of the modern era.
Given Tebow's tireless work ethic and proven perseverance, there's no reason to think that he couldn't find success as a utility player for a few years before finally emerging as a polished quarterback. He'll work at it from now until kingdom come.
Can Tebow still pursue his dream of playing quarterback in the NFL if he is utilized as a tight end in 2013?
In today's NFL, with so many specialized players and positions, it seems unthinkable that this formula would work. That said, Belichick has long been known for embracing unconventional approaches, and Tebow's situation is about as unconventional as any in the NFL.
This year—and every year that Brady is still starting at quarterback—Tebow can become a valuable player for New England at a non-quarterback position. He has a chance to completely revitalize his career with perhaps the only team that can help him achieve this lofty goal.
And considering his history of overcoming long odds, you'd be foolish to bet against him.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78