The New England Patriots signed a pair of veteran players to future contracts early in the offseason in quarterback Mike Kafka and pass rusher Marcus Benard. Kafka was released to make room for the signing of Tim Tebow, while Benard still remains on the team. We’ve seen several recent pieces detailing Benard on various Patriots sites, as I wrote a profile on him, Oliver Thomas had a great film breakdown of Benard on NE Patriots Draft, and ESPN Boston’s Mike Rodak wrote about Benard in one of his latest “Bubble Watch” pieces.
Now, what did Rodak say about Benard? That he has a 20% chance of making the 53-man roster, and I agree with everything he stated in his piece. Benard is well-worth the Patriots time, because he once recorded 7.5 sacks for the Cleveland Browns before suffering from a few injuries and eventually leaving the team. In fact, Benard didn’t even play in a snap last season. However, the 7.5 sacks are appealing, and he is a veteran worth taking a flier on for the Pats. The defensive end position is simply too crowded for me to believe that Benard can make the roster, but he has a fair shot of cracking the roster. Really, all Benard needs to do is prove he can fit into the 4-3 scheme (he’s a natural 3-4 OLB) and have a big camp. Thomas wrote in his piece that there are concerns about his run defense 4-3 DE, and that will be something Benard needs to address with his play in training camp. 20% is about right, but Benard is a potential sleeper as a worth reclamation project for the Patriots. My biggest issue with Benard isn’t talent; it’s scheme fit.
Speaking of “project”, Tim Tebow is likely a project at whichever position he plays. The Patriots are deep enough at tight end (Daniel Fells is underrated, Rob Gronkowski might not have to miss time, and UDFAs Zach Sudfeld and Brandon Ford are generating plenty of buzz to boot) to where they don’t need to add another. They definitely don’t need to try and flip Tebow to TE, because he would have to learn the ropes of a new position in a short time. If that happens, then Tebow would basically be useless this season unless if he picked things up quickly. And whose to say he’s going to be an upgrade anyway? This is something that could definitely happen down the road, but I doubt it happens this year.
ESPN Boston’s Field Yates wrote about Marcus Benard in today’s quick-hit column, and he also touched on Tim Tebow. Like colleague Mike Reiss, Yates stated that we shouldn’t “count on” Tebow playing at any other position other than quarterback. I love Yates’s line about how Tebow already has enough to work on at quarterback, and every reporter who is well-connected within the Patriots organization is saying that Tebow will stay at QB. Adam Schefter once stated that Tebow will likely be inactive for every week in the regular season, and he is enough of a project at QB. Plus, if he works out at QB, Josh McDaniels could have the guy he wants and the Pats can trade Ryan Mallett and use Tebow as a replacement (provided Mallett has a killer preseason and fetches a high draft pick).