Tim Tebow hasn’t gotten a lot of love so far in his return to the NFL, but at least one player is sticking up for the Jaguars’ newest tight end.
Trey Burton, a seven-year NFL veteran and current free agent, recently said that he had no issue with Jacksonville’s decision to take a flier on Tebow.
“I don’t understand the outrage,” Burton said, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “There are 90 [roster] spots. If they want to bring someone in, why not? A lot of teams take fliers on guys from various backgrounds every year.”
Burton’s last point is especially true about the tight end position. Every year, NFL teams take chances on big, strong, fast athletes at that position and see if they can mold them into anything.
One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, Antonio Gates, didn’t even play college football. He signed with the Chargers after a strong basketball career at Kent State. Jimmy Graham, one of the best tight ends of the last decade, also played four years of basketball and had just one year of college football experience.
More recently, Mo Alie-Cox, a former VCU basketball player, became a quality part of the Colts’ tight end rotation. And this offseason, the Washington Football Team signed former Tulane and Loyola-New Orleans forward Sammis Reyes to compete for a spot on the team.
Burton himself wasn’t a true tight end when he enrolled at Florida. He was actually a quarterback but moved to the tight end spot because of his great athletic ability. That paid off for him, as he became a strong tight end with the Eagles and found success at the NFL level. Most notably, he was the player that threw the ball to Nick Foles on the “Philly Special” play in Super Bowl 52.
And Burton thinks that Tebow has the requisite athletic traits needed to be the next in a long line of quality converted tight ends. It’s just a matter of whether or not the soon-to-be 34-year-old can master the technique of playing the position.
“From an athletic and mental standpoint, there’s no doubt he’ll do a great job,” Burton said. “It’s the day-to-day physical part, the technique that’s the toughest thing.
“As a quarterback, you’re in the pocket looking into coverage. At tight end, you know the coverages but you have to go full speed in a three-point stance and diagnose. You see the linebacker, the defensive end and the safety on your side of the field. … There’s a lot more to it than whether he can do it or not. It’s deeper than that.”
If Tebow can develop quickly for the Jaguars, he would give Florida a reputation for turning quarterbacks into quality tight ends. They already have Burton and Jordan Reed, a former Pro Bowler who retired during the 2021 offseason, to their name.
Regardless of what happens, Burton will be pulling for Tebow as he tries to make it back into the NFL nearly a decade after his last regular-season game.
“I really hope he does well. I love what he’s about, how he plays the game,” Burton said. “There’s no doubt in the world, he’s the type of guy to try and defy the odds. You say he can’t do it, well, he’s going to give it all that he has.”