Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame
Weight: 199 pounds
40 time: 4.42
The 2009 Biletnikoff Award winner as the top receiver in college football, Golden Tate is a proven playmaker who can take the ball the distance at any position and from anywhere on the field. A two-year starter for the Fighting Irish, Tate leaves Notre Dame after having re-wrote the record books in South Bend.
He finished his career with 157 receptions (third in school history) for 2,707 yards (first) and 26 touchdowns. His 4,130 career all-purpose yards and 1,915 all-purpose yards in 2009 both rank second in school history as well. The best statistical season of his career came in 2009 when he caught 93 passes (first in school history for a single season) for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns.
A very talented player with great athleticism, Golden Tate offers teams a versatile and dangerous player who is capable of playing a number of different positions. As a receiver, Tate ran a lot of shallow-to-intermediate routes where the Irish could get the ball into his hands and let him run in the open field; however, he’s also completely capable of being a down-field threat for his team. Tate makes plays in traffic as well as any receiver in college football and his sheer toughness is one of his greatest strengths; he has no hesitation towards working across the middle of the field and in traffic to make a play.
What I like about Tate’s game is how instinctive he is; he does a great job of working back to the quarterback and keeping the play alive while also adjusting well to the ball when needed; he’s capable of making great acrobatic catches. Golden’s speed is good, but not elite, however his quickness, agility, and elusiveness are what his game is made up of; his vision in the open field to make a play on an on-coming defender is fantastic. His route running is also when of the better parts of his game, with the ability to run nearly every route on the route tree. I also think that he’s an underrated blocker in the run game; his strength allows for him to be an effective blocker when his team runs behind him.
Golden is also a talented returner, having returned 41 kicks for 847 yards and 26 punts for 287 yards and one touchdown during his career with the Irish. Tate’s biggest weakness is his lack of size. At just 5-10, his short height suggests that playing in the slot at the next level could be his best fit.
One thing that I’d like to see Golden work on his getting a better jump off the line of scrimmage; he doesn’t have much of a burst or acceleration when releasing from the line, so this is something that he could stand to get better at in the NFL. I project that Tate will be drafted in the late-first to early-second round.
I like Tate a bit more than other scouts do. I personally feel that he has the potential to develop into a playmaking wide receiver for the team that drafts him; he has the quickness and agility to line up in the slot, while he also he the strength and the toughness to line up outside. I think that he has the potential to develop into a very good No. 2 or slot receiver for his team, while also being capable of returning kicks and punts on special teams. He’s also a vocal player with great intangibles who was a team leader for Notre Dame in 2009.
Notes: Golden was named first-team All-American in 2009. Tate is also a talented baseball player, having been drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school, but he instead opted to be a two-sport star at Notre Dame. Tate’s dad, also named Golden, was a successful receiver at Tennessee State and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1984 NFL Draft. Coming out of high school, Golden was rated as the No. 2 player in the state of Tennessee and No. 7 athlete in the country by Rivals.com.
Tate is widely considered one of the playmakers in this year’s draft class, and the fact that his productivity at a big-time program like Notre Dame suggests his game translates to the NFL. While there is some concern about his size, it isn’t unheard of for diminutive receivers to become legitimate No. 1s in the NFL; think Carolina’s Steve Smith, for example. Tate’s abilities in the return game should also get him on the field sooner rather than later, and while he isn’t being mentioned in the same breath as Devin Hester or DeSean Jackson in that capacity every little bit helps—especially in leagues where return yardage comes into play. Also, don’t overlook that Tate played in a pro-style offense and has demonstrated acumen in running all the same routes the NFL uses; most of his classmates, especially those coming out of spread offenses, don’t have that same experience.
One of the knocks against Tate coming out of the combine was a concern about his hands, specifically how he seemed to leave the ground for every catch during the gauntlet drill. Upon further review, Tate wasn’t getting any help from the quarterbacks throwing in that drill, so for a better indication of his abilities a return to the college film is in order. That film suggests Tate is a first- or second-round talent, one with the ability to get on the field and make things happen right away—exactly what dynasty leaguers want to hear about one of their top picks.