Tebowmania arrived in New England today when Tim Tebow participated in his first mini camp as a Patriot. With the media circus tents popped for the long haul, the questions is will Tebow even make the team?
Patriots coach and general manager Bill Belichick is known as a genius for his innovative moves both on and off the field. Over the years no reclamation project has been beyond Belichick; he consistently wins with other teams castoffs.
The signings have not always worked—Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco—but Belichick knows when to fold. It remains to be seen what plans Belichick has for his new toy, but if Tebow can find success in New England he will join Belichick’s long list of successful trips to the scrap heap.
Drafted with the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Brady is considered the greatest selection of all time. Since taking the starting role in 2001, Brady has won three Super Bowls and two MVP awards. Nice work for a guy every team in the NFL passed on several times over.
After two years anguishing in Oakland, Moss joined the Pats in 2007 and promptly broke the single season receiving touchdowns record with 23 scores. Moss caught 250 passed in his first three seasons in New England, but when relations soured in 2010 and he was traded mid-season to Minnesota for a third-round pick.
The 42nd pick of the 2010 draft grabbed 38 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Teams stayed away on draft day due to injury concerns, a problem that resurfaced at the end of last season and continued this offseason. If the Gronk is able to shake those problems he has a chance to challenge every tight end receiving record.
The 113th pick of the 2010 draft, Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski teamed to create a one-two tight end punch, a trend beginning to spread throughout the copycat NFL. Hernandez made the Pro Bowl in his second season and signed an extension through 2018 last year.
Of all the successful experiments Belichick has conducted, his greatest hits come from linebackers. Ninkovich is a great example. In two seasons before joining the Pats, Ninkovich had six career tackles. Last season he recorded 58 tackles, eight sacks and five forced fumbles.
The 230th pick of the 2005 draft threw for 3,693 yards in 2008 when he filled in for an injured Tom Brady. New England went 11-5 with Cassel but missed the playoffs. Cassel spent his entire college career backing up Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC. He was traded to Kansas City in 2009 and made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
Leave it to Belichick to draw a career season out of a 30-year-old running back. Considered potentially done, Dillon joined the Pats in exchange for a second-round pick in 2004 and ran for 1,635 yards. He would go on to rush for 37 touchdowns and average 4.2 yards per carry in three seasons before retiring in 2006.
The three-time All-Pro corner intercepted 22 passes during his five years in New England. In typical Patriots fashion, Belichick let him go following the 2007 season when he signed a six-year, $56 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vrabel may be the best Tebow comparison. Drafted in the third round by Pittsburgh, Vrabel joined the Pats as an enigma. In his eight seasons in New England he started all but three games at linebacker and also caught 10 touchdowns as a tight end. Vrabel was the type of all-around athlete for which Belichick consistently finds use.
Koppen won two Super Bowls anchoring some of the most impressive offensive lines in NFL history. The centre earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2008 when he did not allow a sack and led the 2009 line that allowed a measly 18 sacks all season.
Welker was the metronome that kept the Patriots offence clicking over his six seasons, averaging 112 catches per season. The 5'9' slot receiver made five Pro Bowls with the Pats, but even Brady's favourite target proved expendable when he left in free agency this offseason to join the Denver Broncos.
Another diminutive offensive force, Woodhead scored 14 touchdowns in his three years as a dual-threat running back. The D-II star joined the San Diego Chargers this offseason as a free agent.
The Patriots workhorse last season, Ridley ran for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first season as the starting running back. He has more career rushing yards than all six of the backs drafted ahead of him in the 2011.
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