By Kyle Rota
Name: Ben Tate
Height: 5110 V
Weight: 220 V
40: 4.43 V
The Big 3:
Athleticism: Tate is a surprising athlete in many ways. 90% of the time, he runs at about 6.0 speed – pretty much average, which isn’t surprising (or bad) for a back his size. However, what’s really interesting is that Tate has a 2nd gear that he rarely shows, and when he takes off he is very fast. I think the (4.43) 40 is accurate when looking at what Tate can do, but a little faster than you normally see. Tate also has better-than-average COD for a back his size and runs at a good pad level. While I’d like to see him run at full speed more often, he’s certainly capable of bursting a big run when he sees the hole. 6.0
Run Inside: This is an area where Tate does a very solid, if unspectactular, job. He has the size and leg drive (a trademark of Auburn runners) to force linebackers to square up on him. He also has a bit of creativity when running inside the tackles and has the burst to get through the hole quickly. While not extraordinary here in any way, he also doesn’t have any bad flaws and overall does a pretty good job working with a poor OL. 6.5
Run Outside: Tate is a pretty good athlete with pretty good creativity, which is why he is – you guessed it, pretty good – on outside runs. When he sees open space, he has the speed to get touchdowns (saw two long TD runs on outside carries). He has good hips and can adjust (if not start/stop) without losing a lot of speed. Not the threat a guy like Jahvid Best is, but still someone you can give the ball to on outside runs without feeling like you’re calling a doomed play. 6.0
Run vision: 6.0 Bounces a lot of runs outside, but it usually works. Has the burst to take advantage of holes. Not a cutback runner.
Tackle Breaking: 6.5 Good size, keeps his legs moving, and shiftier than you’d expect from a back with his power.
Receiving: 5.0 This grade is fairly tentative, as Auburn did not throw the ball to Tate much. Tate was at least somewhat responsible for that, dropping several passes of varying difficulty. (Note: This was almost given a N/A, and the good folk at NFLDraftScout.com actually give Tate praise for his receiving, so it might not be this bad. But given what I saw, a 5.0 is appropriate)
Run After Catch: N/A I doubt Tate would rank above a 5.5 here due to average athleticism, but not enough catches to make a firm grade.
Blocking: 5.5 Tate is a willing blocker with decent strength, but he has pretty heavy feet and could struggle with more athletic NFL defenders. Something he could work on, but I question his ability to ever be a great pass protector with his concrete feet.
Power: 6.5 Tate runs with pretty good power. While rarely bowling defenders over, he does a good job falling forward and dishes out as many hits as he takes.
Elusiveness: 5.5 Tate has some wiggle in his hips that allows him to break/avoid tackles when running outside and in the open field, but he isn’t a truly elusive runner.
Effort: 6.0 Runs physically and is a willing blocker, but there are times that you want Tate to fight more for extra yardage.
Fumbles/Errors: 6.0 Tate had one fumble (a helmet-induced fumble against Tennessee), but he holds the ball securely. Played in a no-huddle offense and did not seem to struggle with missed assignments. (Note: ESPN lists Tate without a fumble (for his career), which goes against what I have in my notes. NFLDraftScout mentions it as a previous problem, but I don’t see any reason why a strong runner who holds the ball securely should be a fumble problem, so I am keeping this grade as well)
Character: 5.5 I feel there are a couple legitimate concerns. Certainly does not lack for confidence, as he believes he is the best back in the country and better than Heisman winner Mark Ingram of Alabama. More concerning is that he sat out the 1st quarter against MSU without any kind of word from the coach – that’s usually a discipline issue. I don’t think Tate is a bad guy, but I have concerns about maturity.
Overall: Tate is a runner who’s success could range from “decent” to “Pro-bowl”. He has the talent to reach the latter, but he’ll probably need a coach who gets on his case in order to do so. He definitely could use some work on his blocking, and from what I’ve seen his receiving could use quite a bit of work. What’s intriguing about Tate is that physically he is a fit for the ZBS, but his running style is more fitting for a man-running scheme. In a zone runner, excellent burst is imperative. Tate has flashed that kind of burst from time to time, but always on slower developing plays (my theory is that Tate doesn’t quickly decide where he wants to run and only uses his top gear when he has a path of green ahead of him. On the delayed handoffs, Tate has more time to figure out where he wants to go, so we see more speed). If Tate can be coached to quickly make a decision and to run at top speed, I think he could be very successful in a zone system that works out of a traditional formation. While Tate has experience running out of the shotgun, I feel his running style is more conducive to a traditional I-Formation attack. Tate can handle the load for a team, but I feel he’s even better when sharing carries with another back, allowing Tate to give max effort in each run and allowing for a 3rd down back. Because I feel Tate may only be an asset when the playcall is a run, I can’t give him above a 3rd round grade, but I feel that’s about where Tate should go anyways.
Computed Grade: 5.96
Final Grade: 6.0
For a break down on the grading scale Kyle uses, click here