A lot of people have been talking up Ben Tate for a while, I didn't really have that much interest through the season, he looked like a decent back, but nothing special. Never really took the time to sit down and watch any Auburn games, so only saw flashing highlights of him, and a few runs while I was channel flicking on ESPN360 Saturday afternoon's. However after the scouting combine, I had to take a look at him. Seemed rather under-appreciated to me, and he certainly thinks so as well, speaking post combine he remarked:
"I think a lot of people were surprised, a lot of the scouts and a lot of you guys in the media," said Tate, the Tigers' leading rusher the past three years. "But I knew what I could do the whole time. I've been telling y'all I was fast, but no one really wanted to listen to me. My coaches knew, and my family knew. "I think I've been underestimated my whole career. It drives me. It keeps me working hard."
I know I was surprised, especially with that 40 time, the image I had in my mind was more of a bruiser a guy with 4.5+ 40 speed, but he really surprised me by clocking a 4.43. Upon watching a little more of his game you can see the speed, but it's still deceptive at the line. We did have a representative at the Auburn pro day last week, but it seems like apart from positional drills, Ben Tate really didn't do a great deal. To be honest can you blame him, a few people questioned his speed, he ran a 4.43 to prove them wrong. One slip, one uncomfortable start, and he could well clock a little slower which would raise the questions again and hurt his stock.
He considers himself the best back in the country and listening to any interview, the guy definitely has "Swagger"
2006- 9 games, 54 attempts, 392 yards, 7.3 avg, 3 TD's. 2 receptions for -3 yards
2007- 13 games, 202 attempts, 903 yards, 4.5 avg, 8 TD's. 16 receptions, 144 yards
2008- 12 games, 159 attempts, 664 yards, 4.2 avg, 3 TD's. 15 receptions, 90 yards
2009- 13 games, 262 attempts, 1,362 yards, 5.2 avg, 10 TD's. 20 receptions, 105 yards
40 Yard Dash: 4.43
Bench Press: 26
Three cone: 6.91
20 yard shuttle: 4.12
More after the jump
What does Ben Tate Do Well?
First of all I have to say congratulations to Ben Tate to getting himself ready for the combine, those are impressive results right there, and it seems he worked his butt off to get there, ranking near the top in most categories, including the 40 and the bench press. Physical style back, 5'11 220lb's, he has nice size. Good downhill runner who works well inside, strong lower body to make arm tackles miss, he has some agility in the open field. Loves to lower his shoulder and take a defender head on. A pretty good blocker although definitely could get better, shows a lot of effort and commitment in this area. Was used at Auburn in several different offensive lines, lined up as a receiver at times, worked out of the slot, and has soft hands out of the backfield. Confidence is not a problem with him, but he seems to have the work ethic and dedication to go with it.
What does he need to improve on?
Although he has pace, he does take his time getting to the edge, and with everything quicker in the NFL, he might struggle if asking to draw it out side. Needs to work on his blocking, particularly his cut blocking, sometimes he seems to run blind, as in patience and vision are moved to the back of his mind to try and just use raw power and plough through traffic where there is a gap. Which is the one problem I see that has effected his stock more than any. Go back to the good old saying "you can't run over everyone in this league".
Ben Tate is interesting because he has a lot to work on but he really started to show vast improvement in his senior year. Although he seems to think he is the best back coming out of college this year, I don't think so. He has a little more pace than someone like Gerhart, but I would never consider taking him over Toby. Lot of upside, tough runner, would suit a team that runs a man blocking zone, but for a zone blocking team that requires a little patience and vision, I'm not sure I would place Ben Tate and the Jets as a match. Not sure where his draft stock sits, read anywhere from the late 2nd to the late 4th. If we have not picked up a back earlier and we need one (If Leon leaves) and he is sitting there in the 4th. Would give it a whirl, but otherwise, Ben Tate has a lot of upside, a lot of potential, but don't think he suits the zone blocking we run.