By: Mark Leipold
- Blocking / Strength
- High-Pointing / Jump Balls
- Basket Catch
Blocking & Strength – Tate is huge, and an excellent blocker, which won’t help him score fantasy points, but will help him get on the field early. He’s able to engage defenders in blocking for much longer than many of the other wideouts in this class. Tate is lined up here on the “7” in the “2nd-and-7” graphic, and he demolishes a defensive end.
Hands-Catcher – Tate is a natural hands-catcher, which is probably why I didn’t see any real drops on his game tape. He’s able to make routine catches away from his body easily, but his strength also allows him to dominate balls thrown off-center. Watch him catch this ball away from his body – many players would bring it into their chest and catch against the body.
High-Pointing / Jump Balls – Tate is big (6’5”) and has strong hands, which allows him to catch balls thrown over his head and win in contested situations. Watch the first two clips of the same reception where he extends up to the ball effectively to bring down a slightly overthrown touchdown pass. (4, 6) The third clip shows his strength to go up and secure the pass, but more importantly to maintain control after taking a huge hit.
Basket Catch – Not normally the forte of the big-bodied wide receiver, but Tate is surprisingly effective at the over-the-shoulder basket catch. It’s a shame he isn’t fast enough to get deep in the NFL and use this skill.
- Waits for Pass to Arrive
Separation – As I’ll mention in a bit, Tate is basically a less athletic version of Kelvin Benjamin. He has abysmal speed, which isn’t even impressive when adjusted for size, he can’t jump high or far (vertical or broad jump), and he doesn’t make quick cuts. All this means he can’t separate from defenders. Tate is lined up here at the top of the SEC logo (the camera doesn’t follow him), but watch the DB stay with him and not even break a sweat.
Waits for Pass to Arrive – Tate needs to have better awareness in situations like this one, where he waits for the ball to arrive rather than coming back to his QB. He’s clearly a one-trick pony – the big, jump-ball wide receiver.
Athleticism – Granted, Tate is 6’5” so no one expects him to be the fastest or most athletic player on the field. However, Tate turned in a 9th-percentile 40-yard dash time and a 3rd percentile burst score (PlayerProfiler.com’s combination of vertical and broad jump). Tate won’t win deep with speed, and he won’t win in space with precise cuts. He’ll end up like Mike Evans of recent years (i.e., very low YAC), but he’ll be a red zone weapon because of his height and strength.
Tate is, as I mentioned, basically a less athletic version of Kelvin Benjamin, and Kelvin Benjamin does not get most people excited anymore. He’ll probably find a home as a red-zone weapon, but other than jump balls and blocking, it’s hard to figure out what he’ll do for an NFL team. Make no mistake, his tape is really impressive, and he actually has very few faults. However, a wide receiver with his lack of athleticism, even at 6’5” and 228 pounds, won’t be able to do many things for an NFL team.
Tate will have some value if he lands in a prolific offense like the Rams, Saints, or Packers (or Colts if Andrew Luck is healthy). He’s a big body that can win in contested-catch situations, but he lacks the baseline athleticism to contribute to an NFL passing game in many other ways. He isn’t fast, quick, or explosive (relative to his peers), and he’s not a route technician. Even at his size, he simply won’t be a matchup problem for NFL defenses. Tate will likely be a low-yardage (and even lower YAC), but high touchdown fantasy option, which will mean extreme weekly volatility. His ceiling is probably roughly 2017 Sammy Watkins (yes, he had 8 TDs) in terms of fantasy output, which is fine, but not that appealing. Tate is a late third round pick at best in my eyes. There are plenty of higher-upside wideouts like Antonio Callaway and DaeSean Hamilton that I’d rather draft in the late rounds. I’ll probably have him around WR15-20 among rookies.