Like many other young receivers, Auden Tate started his collegiate career slowly but has demonstrated potential during his limited playing time at Florida State. He was not an elite prospect coming out of high school, but late bloomers sometimes end up having the best professional careers.
I am excited to watch his upcoming junior season to see if he can continue to develop and take his game to another level. Deondre Francois returns as Tate’s quarterback and fellow receiver Nyqwan Murray seems to be coming into his own. The Seminoles also added High School star running back Cam Akers. The Florida State offense should be fun to watch in 2017.
Tate turned 20 years old back in February. If he chooses to forego his senior season, he will be 21-years-old when he is drafted in 2018. That is a relatively young age for NFL prospects. For comparison, Alabama star receiver Calvin Ridley will already be 23-years-old this December.
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As a Recruit
Tate attended Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. According to MaxPreps, he played in eight games during his sophomore season, amassing 27 receptions for 401 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly doubled each of these totals in his junior season, catching 49 balls for 815 yards and five scores. Unfortunately, an injury derailed his senior season and prevented him from building on the momentum he developed in his junior year.
As mentioned earlier, he was not an elite prospect coming out of high school. According to 247Sports, he was rated the 31st best receiver and 264th overall prospect in the 2015 recruiting class. He received offers from many top schools, including Michigan, Florida, Florida State, and Clemson, and ultimately chose Florida State.
He was very limited during his freshmen season as a Seminole. Typical of incoming players, he took some time to get acclimatized to the style and speed of the collegiate level. An injury slowed his development early in the season, as he appeared in only six games and did not record a catch.
Tate showed flashes during his second season with the Seminoles. He started the season on a scoring frenzy, catching three touchdowns in his first two games. His production took a dip over the next month, as he only recorded one catch in three of his next four games. Following this lull, he put together three solid games in a row, including six catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns against Boston College.
|1||2016||9/10/2016||Florida State||Charleston Southern||W||2||13||6.5||1|
|3||2016||9/24/2016||Florida State||@||South Florida||W||1||39||39||0|
|4||2016||10/8/2016||Florida State||@||Miami (FL)||W||1||14||14||0|
|5||2016||10/15/2016||Florida State||Wake Forest||W||2||20||10||1|
|7||2016||11/5/2016||Florida State||@||North Carolina State||W||3||68||22.7||0|
|8||2016||11/11/2016||Florida State||Boston College||W||6||101||16.8||2|
Stats above courtesy of SportsReference
Auden Tate stands at 6’5’’ and weighs 225 lbs. He towers over nearly every opposing cornerback and uses his size well in contested catch and red zone situations.
He is not the fastest receiver, so most of his success comes with routes in which he can utilize his size. These include nines and slants.
|Auden Tate||6’5”||225 lbs|
|Mike Williams||6’3”||205 lbs|
|Mike Evans||6’5”||231 lbs|
|Kelvin Benjamin||6’5”||240 lbs|
|Brandon Marshall||6’4”||230 lbs|
Kelvin Benjamin has similar height but weighs about 15 pounds more. Tate moves more fluidly and jumps higher than Benjamin. As a result, I see more to Tate’s game than Benjamin’s.
At Nike’s The Opening back in 2014, Tate registered a 30.8’’ vertical. Although this is not an outstanding number, he is exceptional at timing his jumps and high pointing balls much like Mike Williams does. These skills, paired with his size, are his biggest advantages over defenders.
I charted three of Tate’s games from his 2016 season (@ Louisville, vs. Boston College, and vs. Florida). He only ran 37 chartable routes during these games, with 28 of them coming during his 101-yard game against Boston College. This is a limited sample size, but it does include two of his better games in which he was more involved.
Florida State often looked to take advantage of Tate’s size, as they sent him on nines on over half his routes. He almost exclusively ran nines in the first game I charted against Louisville early in the 2016 season. Both of his catches in that game came on nine routes. Surprisingly, he converted both into touchdowns.
Tate ran 28 of his 37 charted routes against Boston College later in the year. Over half of those routes were still nines, but he did run five other routes (screen, slant, comeback, dig, and post). This diversity portrayed some development of his route tree. He scored one of his touchdowns during this game on a slant and another on a comeback.
He only ran five chartable routes in his last game against Florida. Once again, his route tree had more variation than his game against Louisville early in the season.
When Tate lined up on the outside, he almost exclusively ran nine routes in all three charted games. His size really helped him in jump ball situations, allowing him to leap over defenders with ease. When he went in motion, he ran a good amount of slants. He was able to gain enough separation and place his large frame between the defender and the ball.
According to the chart above, the most common route he ran was easily the nine. Slants were his second most common route, followed by comebacks. Together, these three route types accounted for 84 percent of those I charted. Tate’s size gives him more of an advantage on these three types of routes, so it makes sense Florida State had him run those patterns.
Half of his catches in the three games charted came on nine routes. In addition, he only caught a pass on three types of patterns. Hopefully, Tate has a chance to run more routes as a junior. I am not expecting him to excel at every pattern, but he could use his size to shield defenders on posts and curls.
Tate did not generate many yards after the catch in the routes I charted, but he can still be a successful receiver without doing so. Mike Evans and Brandon Marshall also typically generate very low yards after catches, but they have both have been very successful in the NFL. Evans is arguably among the NFL’s top five receivers in today’s game and Marshall has had more than 1,000 yards receiving in eight of his last ten seasons.
In the routes I charted, Tate demonstrated great body control and ability to high point the ball. The catch below is reminiscent of Mike Williams’s days at Clemson.
Auden Tate on 50/50 passes is absolutely elite. Easily boxes out and muscles defenders. pic.twitter.com/I56gICQJVm
— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) May 21, 2017
Tate’s size really helps him in contested catch situations. It allows him to high point balls most cornerbacks cannot reach.
Nine routes have a much lower success rate than other routes like comebacks, curls, and slants. As a result, he experienced his highest success rate on comebacks. I am actually surprised at how successful he was on nine routes. He caught 62.5 percent of passes thrown to him while running the go pattern.
To give some perspective, Chris Hogan caught seven of the 13 targets he received while running nine routes, good enough for 53.84 percent and tied for the NFL lead. Of course, the NFL is much more difficult to succeed in than college, but Tate still had a respectable catch rate.
Some of those incompletions could even be attributed to poor throws that gave Tate very little chance of catching them.
Based on his success rate on nines, I would like to see Florida State throw even more passes Tate’s way. He started to see more targets as the season went on last year and the departure of a few receivers should thrust Tate into a starting role this year. Hopefully, Tate can build on the momentum he generated during the last month of the 2016 season.
I have seen Tate compared to another receiver who attended Florida State, Kelvin Benjamin. It is interesting how similarly built players wearing similar jerseys, whether it is the same team or number, remind us of each other. There are in fact similarities between Tate’s and Benjamin’s games. Both receivers stand at 6-foot-5. They use their large frames on slants and in contested catches.
However, I believe there is more to Tate’s game than just size. Tate is great at extending and controlling his body to catch jump balls. He also has a gigantic catch radius. Some of the catches he made remind me of the plays Mike Williams routinely made at Clemson last year.
He has the prototypical size of an outside receiver in the NFL. He could be a great source of touchdowns if he goes to the right scheme and has a quarterback who is willing to throw contested catches to taller receivers.
In the games I charted, he had some great blocks when he used his size to his advantage. On the other hand, he did have some lapses where he allowed the defender to easily slip by him and made a tackle. He will need to become a better blocker so he is not limited to being a role player who only plays in certain receiver sets and packages.
In addition, it will be important for Tate to continue to develop his game and route tree. He will be a player I will be keeping my eye on this season as I continue to participate in more devy leagues. As the 2018 class figures to be a strong one, I am currently targeting him in the beginning of the second round of devy drafts. He has the potential to climb into the first round if he can display more advanced route running and the ability to take on a heavier target share.