Saturday, 6 March 2010

Ben Tate, RB, Auburn: Scouting Report

By Kyle Rota

Name: Ben Tate
School: Auburn
Position: HB
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

The Rest:

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 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


Kyle Rota said...

I figured with Ben Tate turning out a pretty good combine performance (and I think he does have 4.4 speed... sometimes) and generating a bit of interest among Hawk fans, that this was a time to finally publish this report. Tate is a bit of a project for a team like Seattle, but he has all the physical tools to have great success - if he buys into the system and does what the coaches want. He seems like a guy who will work hard, but there are maturity issues and I wonder how receptive he will be to the coaching.

Anonymous said...

'Taters for breakfast, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Don't underestimate Tate, I like him better than Mathews.

Kip Earlywine said...

Funny enough- Tate was scheduled for his preview piece tonight, but you saved me some work. Instead I'll probably do a Brandon Marshall post sometime soon. Its overdue.

CLanterman said...

Any idea where he might go in the draft, both before his combine and now that it's done?

Anonymous said...

Pre-combine 3rd round, post combine 2nd.

Kip Earlywine said...

I won't do a POTD on Tate now- but I just watched some videos (before reading this scouting report). I was happy that everything I noticed was repeated here. Some quick hits-

-He was used a lot on wildcat plays.

-He looks big and powerful. There was one clip where it took 6 guys about 6 seconds to tackle him.

-Really no burst at all getting into 1st gear, but very decent burst getting into 2nd gear.

-Really, really, really prefers running outside. Even on inside runs, he's always looking for the very first chance to bounce outside.

-I sure as hell wouldn't want to tackle him at full speed (his top speed is not elite but it's very fast, plus he's big and runs very physically). Its like a freight train. Very reminiscent of Frank Gore.

-Pretty much never cuts back, and instead often does the opposite (runs horizontally).

-Didn't display vision from what I saw. He just took what he got.

-Didn't make many cuts, but he was decent at them. Not shifty, but did have some moves. He wasn't Toby Gerhart.

-Looks like a 2nd round pick for a man team. He could maybe play zone but he's a much better fit for man, and could be pretty good in a power running man system.

Kyle Rota said...

IMO, pre-combine Tate was probably a late-third rounder. Assuming that what I am seeing with blocking/receiving is not the result of sample size, I don't think it changes a whole lot, maybe an early 3rd. It's just hard to justify taking any back who lacks elite speed, good blocking, AND decent receiving before the third round.

Plus, I don't think those that actually watched Tate should've been surprised by the combine numbers. I even put down in my notes that I thought he'd run quickly, just because he can turn on the jets when he wants to, and everyone wants to at Indy.

I'm not ready to say he'd be a better fit in man, but he's a more natural fit. He has an excellent skillset for zone if Seattle can convince Tate to run the way we want, just because guys with his burst don't usually have 220lb frames and power. But it's a risk, and one I can understand the FO being hesitant to take.