With all of the uncertainty surrounding the New England Patriots‘ tight end position, many fans have jumped to the conclusion that Tim Tebow will emerge as the team’s new starter. If he’s ever going to become a tight end, this is the perfect time, considering that Aaron Hernandez is long gone and Rob Gronkowski has been under the knife more than Joan Rivers lately. It’s safe to say, there’s an opportunity for someone on the New England roster to step up and get some serious playing time at tight end this season. That person, however, won’t be Tim Tebow.
Jake Ballard is by far a better candidate to emerge as the Patriots’ new tight end. There’s a reason why New England claimed him off of waivers and placed him on the PUP list for an entire year – he’s good. Ballard was a key piece to the New York Giants‘ Super Bowl run two years back, until a torn ACL in the big game sidelined him for all of 2012. At the time everyone wondered why the TE-heavy Pats wanted Ballard, but boy do they look smart now.
It’s not that I think Tebow won’t play a few snaps at TE this year, but there’s no way he’s going to evolve into a player the caliber of Ballard in one summer. As much as people want to see Tebow become a regular tight end, I just don’t think it’s realistic. He’s likely going to be used as an offensive weapon all over the field, and TE might be one of those spots, but he’s not ready to be an every down player there.
Ballard is the guy Tom Brady will rely on. He showed his potential in 2011, and there’s no reason to think he won’t top his 604 receiving yards and four touchdowns from that season. With an entire year off to get healthy and familiarize himself with the Patriots’ playbook, he’s going to be ready go from day one of training camp.
I know people love them some Tim Tebow, but the reality is that he’s the Patriots’ third-string quarterback. Ballard on the other hand, is a proven tight end who’s more than capable of being the No. 1 tight end if Gronk can’t get back on the field.
Best case scenario for the Patriots – Gronkowski makes it back early on in 2013, and he and Ballard form a new and maybe improved 1-2 tight end punch.
Follow Andrew Fisher on Twitter