It's been nearly 10 years since Tim Tebow last started in an NFL game. Against the Patriots in the divisional round of the 2011 playoffs, Tebow endured five sacks while being held to just 149 total yards in the Broncos' 45-10 loss to the eventual AFC championships. One of Tebow's biggest tormentors that day was linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who recorded 1.5 sacks of Tebow that included a sack/forced fumble that set up the Patriots' second touchdown.
Ninkovich, four years retired, still feels that he would more than hold his own against Tebow, who has had multiple workouts for the Jaguars as a tight end. If Tebow does end up signing with the Jaguars, Ninkovich is not counting on the former quarterback to make Jacksonville's 53-man roster.
"If you threw a helmet and shoulder pads on me, and I haven't played in four years, I would be able to throw around Tim Tebow as a tight end," Ninkovich said on Get Up!, via Sam Marsdale of 247Sports.
Ninkovich clearly does not think that Tebow can be an effective NFL tight end. He also feels that Tebow has already had his chance to prove himself in the NFL and that he may possibly be taking a roster spot away from a younger player who just spent the past several years preparing for this opportunity. That being said, Ninkovich feels that, eventually, things will work itself out.
"You can't hide in football," Ninkovich said. "You can't go out in left field and just go somewhere. When you're on that field and you put pads on, you're exposed. That's why I love the game. When you put pads on and someone's talking, you say, 'Alright, let's put pads on. Let's see who's the tougher guy.' You can see the people who can play. You can see it with your eyes. The film doesn't lie. ... Because once that film is on, you're going to be exposed."
It's hard to blame Ninkovich for having a pessimistic approach on Tebow's prospects as a tight end. Tebow, however, does possess rare athleticism that played an integral role in his success as the Broncos quarterback in 2011. Tebow's athleticism also allowed him to spend a handful of years inside the Mets' minor league system.
Tebow also possesses intangible qualities that were recently discussed by Jaguars coach Urban Meyer, who coached Tebow during their four years together at Florida. Meyer, during an appearance on Chris Collinsworth's podcast, recalled a conversation he had with his coaching staff following one of Tebow's recent workouts.
"I said, 'Guys, you don't understand,'" Meyer said, via NFL.com. "This guy is, he's the most competitive maniac you're ever gonna talk to, and let's give it a shot."