Tim Tebow at Jaguars minicamp: First impressions of tight end project as he catches Trevor Lawrence pass

Tim Tebow has a long way to go.  While he did have an impressive catch-and-run

Tim Tebow has a long way to go. 

While he did have an impressive catch-and-run during Monday’s minicamp session, the former Broncos and Jets quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner has his work cut out for him if he is going to make the Jaguars’ 53-man roster as a tight end. CBS Sports senior NFL writer Pete Prisco, who has covered the Jaguars since their inaugural season, took in Tebow’s first minicamp practice in nearly a decade. 

“He’s the smallest tight end on the field, by far,” Prisco said of Tebow on CBS Sports HQ. “He looks like one of the kids who didn’t grow in his seventh grade year and everybody else grew. That’s what he looks like on the field. 

“He did catch a pass, [but] he’s got a lot of work to do. He’s a project. He’s a kid that’s trying to transition to a new position. That’s hard to do. It’s even tougher when you’re 33 years old. I don’t expect him to make the team. I’d be shocked if he made the team. And some people will say, ‘Well, use him as a gimmick. Maybe use him as a backup quarterback.’ Well, he’s not a good passer, and if you’re taking Trevor Lawrence off the field, that’s a mistake. So I think he has to make the team as a tight end. I don’t think he will make the team.”

The 6-foot-2 Tebow’s competition at tight end includes rookie Luke Farrell, Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis and Ben Ellefson. And while his size, age and lack of experience at the position are obstacles that he will have to overcome, Tebow clearly has a believer in his former head coach, Urban Meyer. 

“Oh, Tim has done a decent job. We all know this is a new position for him,” Meyer said of Tebow during OTAs, via Jon Reid of the Florida Times-Union. “He’s a great teammate. In the locker room, I can see everybody getting along, we have good chemistry on our team. But he’s picked it up decently.”

Tebow’s reception on Monday came from the arm of Lawrence, whose arrival in Jacksonville has contributed to the buzz surrounding a team that won just one game in 2020. While shoulder surgery (conducted in February) and lingering hamstring issues have limited his on-field work, Prisco said that Lawrence did participate in the Jaguars’ 7-on-7 drill on Monday. 

“His progress is ahead of schedule,” Prisco said of Lawrence. “I think he will be fine at the start of training camp.”

Prisco also offered an update on fellow rookie and former Clemson Tiger Travis Etienne, the 25th player selected in the 2021 draft. Like Lawrence, Prisco believes that Etienne will make an early impact on a Jaguars’ offense that finished 30th in scoring in 2020. 

“I think Etienne is going to be mostly out of the backfield,” Prisco said, “but you can split him out in some situations and create some matchup problems. But he’s a running back. He’s a good runner. He can run between the tackles, he’s a good receiver. He might not be as good of a receiver as Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara, but he’s close.” 

Lawrence and Etienne are welcome additions to an offense that is bringing back fellow playmakers DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault and James Robinson. A rookie last season, Shenault has created his own buzz in Jacksonville this offseason after showing flashes of his potential as a rookie. 

“If he can stay healthy, I think he’s going to make a big leap forward this season,” Prisco said of Shenault, who missed two games due to injury during his rookie season. 

Prisco feels that the Jaguars’ defense, led by new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, will be significantly better this year after finishing 31st in the league in points allowed in 2020. The Jaguars will move from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive alignment. 

“I think that plays to the strength of their personnel,” Prisco said. “Josh Allen will not put his hand on the ground on first and second down, and I think that’s the right way to use him. It’s a big year for K’Lavon Chaisson. He has to prove to people that he can put his hand on the ground in some situations but also hold up against the rush as a standup linebacker.” 

As far as 2021 expectations, Prisco says that fans should do cartwheels if the Jaguars go either 6-11 or 7-10 in Meyer’s first season. Beyond 2021, Prisco feels that the sky is the limit for a franchise that is still in pursuit of its first Super Bowl birth. 

“I think they make the playoffs and maybe even win the division a year from now,” Prisco said. “There is certainly a feeling around here that this team is heading in the right direction. If they don’t win a Super Bowl in the next ten years, it will be a major disappointment.”