Coming into this combine, Golden Tate’s collegiate production was covered by questions on his size and speed.
He did measure in at 5-foot-10, which wasn’t really a surprise to anyone. But at 194 pounds, Tate managed to blaze an unofficial 4.36 40-yard dash and, perhaps, inch back up the draft board.
So what does it matter to you? Well, the Patriots have a need there and I happen to think this kid’s a pretty good fit. He played in a variation of the New England system at Notre Dame, under Charlie Weis, and if you go through the highlights above (or you watched him with the Irish), you see a player clearly exhibiting smarts and football instincts — Finding soft spots in zones and sitting down, locating and getting to his quarterback in scramble situations, tracking and adjust to the ball in the air, and having the awareness to anticipate where defenders are coming from to set up yards after the catch.
There are more positives and negatives, of course. On the upside, he’s tremendously tough, made all kinds of catches in traffic, and is built like a running back with the ability fight through tackles. The downside is that, while he may be fast, he doesn’t seem to be that explosive, and seemed to have a lot of trouble getting separation.
All in all, he’s one to keep an eye on, because he’s got talent, was productive, and shouldn’t be too difficult for the Patriots to scout, given his experience. Playing in that kind of system, in fact, is why he chose to go to Notre Dame and play for Charlie Weis in the first place.
“The system’s got to be similar,” Tate said. “So I knew that I would have a head start when I decided to pursue my dream and play professional football. That was one of the things going into college that I understood. He came from the Patriots, won championships, and I knew that I’m going to get better and learn the game.”
One other 40 time to pass along … Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews (we’ve mentioned him here) blistered a 4.41. Which means chances are getting better that he’ll cost whoever drafts him a first-round pick.