NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Florida State WR Auden Tate

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#18 Auden Tate / WR / 6’5 228 lbs

The Good:

– Large catch radius due to size
– Makes contested catches in traffic
– Elite red zone target
– Willing run blocker
– Out muscles defensive backs for jump balls
– High points the ball
– Good concentration when making tough catches

The Bad:

– Slow, sluggish release off the line of scrimmage
– Does not have the speed to beat his man deep
– Won’t create much separation or window for the ball
– Won’t see as much off coverage at the next level

Bio:

– 2017: 40 receptions, 548 yards, 13.7 YPC, 10 TDs
– Career: 65 receptions, 957 yards, 14.7 YPC, 16 TDs
– 10 touchdowns led the ACC last season
– Most touchdowns (10) in a season for a Seminole since Kelvin Benjamin had 15 in 2013
– Caught a touchdown in the first five games of the 2017 season
– Ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine

Tape Breakdown:

You don’t have to look far to find an NFL comparison for Florida wide receiver Auden Tate, in fact you don’t even have to leave his alma mater. That’s because he is almost an identical replica to former FSU wide receiver and current Bills receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Tate is built almost identically to Benjamin as both receivers are 6’5 and over 225 lbs. Not only that, but he plays in a physical style like Benjamin. The Florida State wide receiver is certainly not the fastest player on the field (4.68 40-yard dash time is a testament of that) but he uses his frame to outmuscle defensive backs in order to be a threat.

Watch Tate go up and outmuscle Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick on the touchdown above. Fitzpatrick is no slouch either as he is regarded as arguably the top safety prospect in this year’s draft. The Florida State wide receiver simply outmuscles Fitzpatrick as his gigantic frame is too much to handle, he then high points the football and comes down with an easy touchdown. Tate scored 10 touchdowns in his last season and with his size, he will undoubtedly be a red zone threat at the next level.

I do not believe it is possible to over throw Tate, as his 6’5 height and incredible leaping ability make almost any ball over his head catchable. The receiver consistently high points the football and can snag any pass thrown over his head and this ability will make him a quarterback’s best friend. Tate shows that on the play above but that’s not all, check out the incredible body control and concentration to keep his feet in bound. What makes his body control so remarkable is that it is typically not seen for a player his size.

Quarterbacks trust Tate and for good reason. They know that at his size, the wide receiver is simply too physical to get out worked for a ball. What is a 50/50 ball, becomes a 80/20 ball in Tate’s favor when thrown in his direction. The above ball has no business being thrown, as the Florida cornerback has textbook coverage but it is that trust quarterbacks have that their 6’5, 228 lb receiver will win the battle that results in the pass.

Football is a game of odds and tendencies. Odds are that when it comes to Tate and a shorter defensive back, it will be Tate who comes down with the catch. His large catch radius and height remind me of former AFC North receivers such as Plaxico Burress and Braylon Edwards.

That is except for a few notable differences.

While in their prime, Buress and Edwards had enough long speed to be creditable deep threats, Tate struggles with acceleration and speed. His 4.68 40-yard dash just about spooked the whole NFL draft community and game tap confirms this fear. Tate lacks burst off the line and as a result you will not see him blow past any cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage. Instead you will see a sluggish start and inability to catch up to the throw.

Here we see Tate’s lack of long speed again except this time the cornerback is in off coverage rather than press. This too presents a challenge as while he will never win in a one on one-foot race, the Florida State receiver will definitely never win if his coverage has a cushion to work with.

Due to his lack of speed, Tate is going to struggle to create separation, a problem that will only be magnified at the NFL level. He’ll have to sell teams on his ability to be a physical mismatch and red zone threat. The question is just how much value is there for receivers like Tate in the NFL. The Panthers selected Benjamin in the first round four years ago and he has been unable to replicate his rookie season, regressing every season since. Benjamin found himself out of a role and out of Carolina, being traded to the Bill last season, scoring just three touchdowns.

Athleticism is the name of the game and Tate lacks that pure athleticism that makes him a valuable asset. With no yards after the catch ability and lack of separation on his routes, Tate may have value in a situational role but his ceiling remains fairly low.

Projection: Mid Day Three

Games Watched: vs Florida, vs Clemson, vs Southern Miss, vs Clemson (2016)

Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam Darnold Garret Dooley Calvin Ridley Fred Warner Ronald Jones II
Maurice Hurst Mike McCray DeShon Elliott  Malik Jefferson Ogbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon Henderson Josh Rosen Ronnie Harrison Kallen Ballage Cedric Wilson Jr.
Micah Kiser Will Hernandez Leighton Vander Esch Josh Allen   Harold Landry
Marquis Haynes  Tremaine Edmunds Kerryon Johnson Lorenzo Carter  Sony Michael
Kyzir White  Rashaan Evans  Tegray Scales  Isaac Yiadom  Jeff Holland
 Rashaad Penny John Kelly Bo Scarbrough  Roquan Smith  Durham Smythe
 Mark Walton  Josey Jewell  PJ Hall  Dorian O’Daniel  Josh Adams
 Leon Jacobs  Marcus Davenport  Jack Cichy  Royce Freeman  Nick DeLuca
 Vita Vea  Darrel Williams  Mason Rudolph  Shaun Dion Hamilton  MJ Stewart
 Derwin James  Kameron Kelly Justin Reid Sam Hubbard Da’Ron Payne
DaeSean Hamilton Nyheim Hines Arden Key Hercules Mata’afa Jason Cabinda
Marcus Allen Michael Gallup Jessie Bates III Kemoko Turay Genard Avery
Hayden Hurst Dallas Goedert Andrew Brown Allen Lazard Davin Bellamy
Phillip Lindsay Jalyn Holmes DJ Chark Mike Gesicki Derrius Guice
Justin Jackson Simmie Cobbs Jr. Anthony Miller Terrell Edmunds Chase Edmonds
Josh Sweat Equanimeous St. Brown DJ Moore Dante Pettis Tre Flowers
Lamar Jackson Taven Bryan Ito Smith Antonio Callaway Keke Coutee
Darius Leonard Nick Chubb Jordan Lasley Ian Thomas Jaleel Scott
James Washington J’Mon Moore Oren Burks
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