Auden Tate may have flown under your radar for much of the last few years, but he’s one player who all dynasty owners should be aware of entering the 2018 draft. The Florida State Seminoles junior wide receiver profiles as a potentially physically dominating player at the next level.
So why else should you be looking at Auden Tate more closely this fantasy off-season? Let’s delve deeper in this early look.
AS A RECRUIT
Not necessarily surprising for a 6’4” high schooler, Tate was a dual athlete in basketball and football. He managed to earn all-county or better honors in both sports, ultimately deciding on football as his path of choice.
Tate was ranked the number 77 WR prospect in his 2015 recruiting class, according to ESPN. He received offers from multiple top FBS schools such as Florida, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and others before deciding on Florida State as his destination. Coming out of high school, he listed a 30.8-inch vertical jump and a 4.3 second 20-yard shuttle. He’ll look to improve on those numbers, especially the vertical jump, at this year’s combine.
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Auden Tate is not a prospect you’d find easily if you’re just sifting through box scores and career stats in college. He battled injury much of his freshman year and really didn’t see the field at all aside from a handful of appearances, not registering any stats. His sophomore and junior seasons have been similar in the stat sheet, with Tate registering 25-409-6 and 35-464-7 in those two seasons, respectively.
Auden Tate’s productivity has mostly come in two games in this career. Against Boston College (eeek eight, 2016) he went for 6-101-2, and against NC State (week two, 2017) he had 9-138-1. The stats from these two games, among the 21 he played, represent 25% of his career catches and 27% of his career yards. Additionally, he only has five career games with more than three catches. Simply put, he’s not the model of consistency when it comes to yards and catches. However, where he has shined is touchdown efficiency.
Tate has a remarkable touchdown rate, grabbing a touchdown on average about once every five catches. He has 13 career scores, and that’s predominantly where FSU utilizes his skillset. He has proven to be an elite jump-ball specialist in college, utilizing his size and athleticism to body defenders and get in position to win. Tate has a touchdown in seven different games this season, three of which against Alabama, Miami, and Florida. He can play against tough competition, but hasn’t shown the consistency one would look for from an elite college wide receiver prospect.
Auden is currently listed at 6’5” and 225 pounds. Scouts and GMs are sure to fall in love with his size throughout the NFL combine and pro days leading up to the 2018 draft. His aforementioned vertical and shuttle times could and should definitely improve as he tests again this winter.
It seems an obvious comparison to make, but I do believe he will test very similarly to former first round pick and FSU standout Kelvin Benjamin, who had a 4.61 second 40-yard dash, 32.5 inch vertical, and 4.39 20-yard shuttle. Benjamin was slightly thicker, listed at 240, but they profile very similarly as big bodied, go-get-it type receivers. If you want to think in terms of athletic profile for Auden Tate, an early comparison could be Benjamin.
Tate’s draft stock is relatively fickle at this point. On one hand, there are people who will push him up due to his potential to dominate with his size at the next level. However, there are people who will push him down far on their draft boards due to lack of elite production in college. In doing research on the earliest mock drafts of the year, I haven’t seen Tate listed as a day one or two (top three round) prospect, generally speaking.
However, he is generally thought of to be a back-end top ten wide receiver in this draft class. There’s still a lot of process to go, but he looks to be someone who goes late day two/early day three if he tests well at the NFL combine and other pre-NFL draft measures.
In terms of dynasty rookie drafts, I don’t currently envision him going in the first round. He is, however, a candidate based on landing spot and draft position to fluctuate between high second round to quite possibly late third round. He’ll certainly be a polarizing player as the off-season progresses. Which NFL team will take a shot on his upside?
Auden Tate without doubt has a lot of potential at the next level. His skillset is one that will enable him to be a candidate for double digit touchdowns every year if he takes that next step forward to become a true WR1 for an NFL team. Upon watching his film, I noticed a lot of things that I like with his game.
He, of course, has the ability to win many jump balls due to his knack for high-pointing the football. The big wideout has strong hands that allow him to come down with the football more often than not, though he will drop his fair share of contested targets you’d like to see him reel in. He is a willing blocker on the outside; I saw a lot of times he made key blocks for Dalvin Cook that allowed him to gain an extra five to ten yards. This effort will be rewarded on the next level.
Tate is by no means a polished prospect. Some concerns I have are his overall athleticism, ability to break tackles, and YAC ability. I worry that he is just dominating at the catch because he is so much bigger than his competition. He has certainly made some catches to prove otherwise, but he doesn’t appear to be an elite athlete. In the NFL, it’s not just all about size.
The other two concerns of mine partly tie together. He gets brought down almost immediately after the catch very often. Part of the reason, I believe, is because his natural instinct is to jump for a ball even when he might not need to. This does not put him in great position to turn that catch into another 30 yards and a touchdown, like we see many star NFL wide receivers do.
Overall, I’m excited to see what Auden Tate can bring to the table at the next level. His flaws are certainly workable, though fantasy owners and NFL GMs might have to be patient with him as he adjusts his game. He’ll have just recently turned 21 while going through the NFL draft process. He’s someone who would change the course of an NFL or fantasy team if he puts it all together. Stay tuned.
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