My Review Of Brandon Tate:
The Good: Brandon Tate is speed on a stick. He is one of those rare players who looks faster than everyone else on the field. He has recording setting production as a Kick Returner and receiver combined. His greatest value in the NFL is as a KR, and an underrated Punt returner. He was having a great Senior season. He was averaging over 20 yards a reception(367 Yard and 3 TDs on 16 Receptions), over 25 Yards per KR (305 Yards on 11 KR), and over 20 yards per Punt Return (158 yards and 1 TD on only 7 PR)! Then he blew out his knee against Notre Dame in week 6. Tate is not just a little speedster either, he is big and well-built and has the size and strength to develop into a good NFL receiver. He is a team leader and popular with his teammates. He was rated above his teammate and 1st Round pick Hakeem Nicks before he hurt his knee. I watched an interview with Nicks before the Draft, and he went on and on about Tate, just raving about what a good guy, friend, and teammate he is. He also said he was a great WR, and he was a year ahead of him in the program and really took him under his wings and taught him a lot about playing WR. Nicks is super elusive with he ball in his hands. He has that knack for getting open deep, and displays great hands catching the deep. He actually plays smart and knows how to set up Corners. He is pure speed and quickness on the field, and is explosive, deceptive, and fun to watch with the ball in his hands. He is every bit as explosive and dynamic with the ball in his hands as 1st round picks Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin. And for all their hype, Tate was a far superior returner in college. He has large strong hands, and what impressed the most about his game as a WR prospect is his ability to catch the deep bomb effortlessly, which is far more difficult than he makes it look. Ironically, another of his top WR prospect traits are his field-awareness and his ability to display great focus on the field. When he is on the field, he is a smart, alert, and aware player, who recognizes what defenses are doing and what players are trying to do to him. He is not the best route runner or technician on short patterns. He does come out of his cuts with great quickness on short routes. His greatness as a route runner is primarily in deep patterns, as he tends to run to high to emphasis his speed rather than his quickness. He makes sharp cuts and explosive bursts when he has the ball in his hands, but does not display those same traits in his route tree, he will never be a Wes Welker like quick-cutting slot receiver. What is really exciting about his potential in the passing game with Brady at QB is that when he can catch the ball in full stride his speed, strength, and aggressive running style are equal to anyone in this Draft. Is YAC is astonishing, and he has averaged over 10 Yards Per Carry in his last 3 years in college (Rushing 26 times for 294 Yards and 2 TDs).
Also, his second biggest negative is also his good news. His knee injury. I don't believe there is any way a rookie WR can make this team next year, period. NFL teams traditionally keep 5 WRs on the roster, the Pats may keep 6. One through four is set, with Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Joey Galloway, and Greg Lewis (who BB also like as a KR). That leaves Sam Aiken as the Pats 5th Receiver. I think Aiken is very underrated as a WR, he is built like a tank, and over the second half of the season he seemed to be garnering a reception every game as the fifth receiver. Plus, his real value is as a Special Team maven. He is guaranteed to make the team. So any rookie trying to make this team will have to fight Matt Slater as the 6th receiver, if they keep a 6th receiver, on this team. So how can he make this team next year? Simple, as any fast and talented young pup, he will be on the PUP listed, and will be Redshirted this year, and next season, when he is completely healthy and knows more of the system, he will compete to be the 5th or 6th WR on the roster. So because of his injury he is all but guaranteed, unless he gets high, to make the team next year as a Stash-player. The Pats will stash him on the PUP, where he can learn th eoffense and special teams plays, and he will compete for a real roster spot in 2010 when he will be healthy and a dynamic player with the ball in his hands again.
The Bad: Brandon Tate is not a great Wide Receiver. His main NFL attribute is his speed. Plus, you have to question his intelligence, because he didn't just test positive for weed, he tested positive at the Combine. If his knee injury affects his speed over the long term, he will be gone. If he tests positive again, he will be gone. If he can't learn the plays, he will be gone. I think the one Patriot player who you compare him to the most is Bethel Johnson. He was a great physical specimen, a great Kick Returner, he was a good deep threat but offered little else in the passing game as he could never master the intricacies of the passing game, and he had elite speed. However, he was not a bright man, and his ego and mental instabilities wafted his way right out of town.
The Ugly: I was gonna go to the Combine, but then I got high. I was gonna make myself some millions, but than I got high. Now I'm not a 1st Round pick, and I don't why? -Because than I got high. (please sing to the tune "Because I got high" by Afroman).
Brandon Tate tested positive for weed at the Combine. That is just stupid. I think it is always a mistake to draft a player who tests positive for drugs at the Combine, because they know. They know they are going to be tested months before the Combine. They know the exact date they are going to be tested. They know the exact time, place, and doctor who is going to test them. And I can guarantee you that his agent told him ten times that according to his Combine itinerary, he is scheduled for his semi-confidential drug test February 20th at 3:PM (obviously I don't know the real time and place), in room 4FU by Dr Timothy Leary. So the only question left is he just stupid or is he habitually stupid.
BB Sunday night after Day Two:
"We came in and had the four picks in the third round and Jacksonville pretty quickly came after that first third round pick, and we pushed that into a second round pick in next yearís draft. And then we selected Brandon Tate. Heís a very versatile player, an explosive returner. He was a very productive player at North Carolina the last couple of years. I think a combination of factors, certainly the injury and other factors (Weed), probably led to him being available at that point in the draft and we felt like that was a good value at that point. And then Tennessee was involved in that third pick and we pushed that to the 2010 draft as well in the second round."
How was the draft evaluation process different with a guy like Brandon Tate?
"The only thing you had to go on with Tate was the first half of the season. There was no spring workout and all of that. The ability to do the testing and all of that wasnít there so you had to go on what you saw in film. With that type of thing, our medical people evaluated the situation and gave us an opinion on where that stands. So weíll just see him this weekend and let him continue on his rehab and just kind of see how that time frame goes. I canít tell you exactly what thatís going to be, but weíll know a lot more when we start working with him. Obviously, we think that in time heíll be able to get back to where most players are when they have that type of injury."
You mentioned some concerns about Brandon Tate and his health issues. One was a positive drug test at the combine. To what degree were you concerned about that?
"As we talked about last week, those are things that I canít talk about. Theyíre confidential and I really canít address those. Again, I would say in the big picture, every player has things positives and negatives in their entire profile, whatever that happens to be. In the end, you just have to evaluate that player, your team and your situation and what kind of value you put on that and what kind of fit you think it will be. Iím glad we have Brandon. He brings a lot to our football team and heíll hopefully work hard to do the things he needs to do to be a productive player for the Patriots. Thatís what my expectations are. Weíre comfortable taking him at the point [and] in the situation that we took him in and I think he has a good future here."
Where do you see his progress with the injury?
"I think weíll know more about that when he comes in here this weekend. But heís rehabilitating it and I expect him to work hard to try to get back on the field as quickly as possible, whenever that is. So thatís a medical decision."
BB on WEEI:
Having as many picks as you had, and the versatility in the way that you had those picks, and the fact that you all ready have a pretty good football team, does that enable you to take a few more chances out there, gambles? I look at Tate, a kid that obviously if he is healthy he's probably drafted at a higher position? Do you have a little bit more risk taking that you can deal with the situation you were in?
"You know, I think the potential for that would be there Glenn, but I really don't feel like we had a lot of risky picks. I would say that this is one that could turn out real well, or could not turn out well at all. But, Brandon Tate is, I think, pretty clearly a 1st round level player talent-wise, and we think his medical situation is going to be resolved is eventually going to be resolved. I mean I don't think he has any kind of career-threatening injury or anything like that, but it's that a lot players both on our team and around the league have come back from."