Chicago Bears Draft Scout: Auden Tate
What skills does Auden Tate bring and is he a fit for the Chicago Bears?
Auden Tate has made a variety of explosion plays but has consistently set the world on fire across the college ranks. Tate came along as a sophomore, catching six touchdowns, but hauling in less than 500 yards. As a Junior, Tate played through a shoulder injury in Week Three, and still put up 10 touchdowns, and 548 yards on 40 receptions. It showed strength to play through the pain to improve his draft stock. Does he have the skill to back up the will?
Auden Tate is a game breaker when the ball is in the air. If it is in his area, and within some sort of reach, he is coming down with it. Tate has great athletics to out jump and out muscle cornerbacks for 50/50 balls. He also has a strong ability to track the ball and adjust his body while in mid-air to avoid contact and come down with receptions clean.
Take the play below for example. Tate has two defenders crashing in on him and a pass that is a little high and a little behind the receiver. The cornerback is playing Tate, but Tate is playing the ball. He uses his size and athleticism to go up and get it. Then, the safety comes in to deliver a punishing hit. Tate takes the hit, holds onto the ball, and does so while controlling his body enough to get two feet in bounds. That is an NFL touchdown. Watch as he covers the ball when he lands as well to survive the ground. It does not get better.
These plays are scatted throughout the tape of Auden Tate. He goes up and gets it. It does not matter how good the coverage is, he is still worth throwing the ball to.
With his great ability to haul in contested catches, there are questions about how much separation he can get. It is great that he can haul everything in, but it does leave less margin for error from his quarterback. It would also limit his upside.
However, Tate does bring in some sharp footwork and technical mechanics to prove he is more than just a splash player.
Watch his feet below. They are quick and active. He can turn his body in any direction getting out of his breaks from a yard behind the line of scrimmage. He often uses deception in his feet to break free over the middle.
Tate does it again below. He squares up the cornerback and breaks inside on him. He uses his strength to help when the two meet at his break and finds separation. Look how much room he has between himself and the cornerback as the ball is zipped in over the middle.
Tate also brings in a strong ability and desire to block, making him a more well-rounded receiver than many are giving him credit for.
While Tate has shown an ability to get separation over the middle, he is unlikely to have the deep speed to consistently do that down the field. He is at his most dangerous down the field, but if he does not have a quarterback that trusts him against tight coverage, he is not going to see the ball enough. He has feet that show an ability to become a strong route runner, however, his route tree in its current state is far from extended.
Tate is a player whose combine will matter more to him than others. He is reliant on athleticism at this point in his career, and until he grows into the finer areas of the game, he could be looked at by some as a project.