15 Days to the Draft: Auburn RB, Ben Tate

With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.

Auburn's Ben Tate is a big back- 5-11, 220 lbs big. He is a monster hitter who can get the short yardage. While he has some trouble holding the ball in short yardage, he can get in the end zone. A downhill runner, Tate has the speed (4.4 40 time) and strength (2nd highest reps out of RBs) to punish potential tacklers. He doesn't dance in the backfield, but instead hits the hole hard to get fast yardage. He has great down field vision and can also help with blocking in the backfield. He has the overall game to dominate in the NFL and could very well play with a chip on his shoulder his entire career due to the lack of attention in his direction. He comes from a school that has produced some great running backs (Ronnie Brown, Stephen Davis, Cadillac Williams, etc) and his game should work in the pros. Does his game work with the Patriots?

His measurements and some quotes after the jump.

WalterFootball.com Scouting

Height: 5-11. Weight: 219.
Projected 40 Time: 4.54.
Combine 40 Time: 4.45.
Benchx225: 26. Vertical: 40.5. Broad: 10-4.

CBSSports.com Scouting

03/10/2010 - Ben Tate still feels underappreciated, and he still isn't afraid to tell everyone about it. The running back spent most of Auburn's pro day Tuesday as a spectator, satisfied with the solid numbers he put up at last month's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Tate ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash and bench-pressed 225 pounds 26 times at the combine, putting him among the leaders for running backs. "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." Tate, who weighed in at 220 pounds, did some light positional drill work outside, catching passes out of the backfield from quarterback Chris Todd. - Andy Bitter, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

03/09/2010 - Ben Tate spent most of Auburn's pro day watching, relaxing and trying to stay loose. The running back was content to let his numbers from the NFL combine stand. Tate, whose strong senior season was overshadowed by Alabama's Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, turned in some of the better stats among running backs in Indianapolis two weeks ago. Tate turned in the third-fastest 40 time among running backs and was second-best on the bench press. He says a lot of scouts were surprised by his performance, but he wasn't. The solid performance allowed Tate to participate only in position drills at pro day. He said he never considered skipping Auburn's pro day "because the coaches still want to see you compete." - John Zenor, AP Sports

03/01/2010 - Ben Tate has a legitimate gripe about not getting more national attention. With all of the attention heaped upon Mark Ingram, Dexter McCluster and Anthony Dixon, few around the country realize how effective he was for the Tigers this season. His 1,362 yards in 2009 were the fourth highest single-season-total in Auburn history. And remember... Auburn has quite the history of running backs (Bo Jackson, Cadillac Williams, James Brooks, Stephen Davis, Ronnie Brown, etc.) Tate is once again likely to be overlooked, as the talking heads will be talking more about CJ Spiller and Jahvid Best's speed than anything else in the days following the running back workouts. However, look at what he accomplished in Indianapolis: Bench Press: #1 of all RB's; 26 Reps of 225 lbs...Broad Jump: #1 of all RB's; 10'4"...Vertical Jump: #2 of all RB's; 40'5"...40 Yard Dash: #3 of all RB's; 4.43 seconds...Tate seemed to predict his success in an interview with the Opelika Auburn News a few days before his strong workout at the Combine. "There's nothing more important than what you do on the field," Tate said. "But if there's someone close to you who has similar numbers and you all are being seen as equal-type players, these numbers you put up at the combine can make a big difference. "They can leapfrog you over a couple guys that are almost the same type of running back." Considering his production at the Combine, as well as the more important numbers he put up when in a system that fit his downhill rushing style with the Tigers, Tate should be rising up draft boards. - Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com

NFL.com Scouting

Tate is a hard-nosed runner that does not spend much time dancing around in the backfield. He likes to stick his foot in the ground and hit the hole at the first sign of a running lane opening up. He is a downhill runner that will veer off course as he gets through the hole but is not going to make a lot of people miss once he gets through the hole unless he can just outrun them. He had been considered a bit of an underachiever in the past but came through with a big senior season to raise his status going into this draft.

Strengths

Tate possesses a nice combination of size and speed at the running back position. Is a competitive back who will deliver blows to defenders. Shows good burst through the hole and usually doesn’t waste time in the backfield. He has some impressive initial quickness. Is a downhill runner.
Weaknesses
Tate’s production was inconsistent and he shared the load until having a big senior season. Can be caught at times making multiple cuts. Tate doesn’t possess elite size or power but also doesn’t have great elusiveness to make defenders miss or excel on the perimeter.

MockingtheDraft.com Scouting

Final word: When you evaluate Tate, throw out his stats. He went from being in a pro-style offense to a spread in his junior and senior seasons. He fits best in an I-formation where he can use his vision and power.

Tate may not have the best speed, but he's an effective player who knows how to gain extra yards after contact.

Also an accomplished baseball player. Has no injury history to speak of. Named to the SEC all-conference second team in 2009. Plays with a lot of confidence.

Verdict: Tate could very well be a steal if he falls to his predicted 4th round. He could be that big back in our committee. While the scouting reports state he has some ball control issues, he has no fumbles to speak of- lost or recovered. He has the overall package to do very well- and being the #1 back for Auburn for 3 seasons is definitely a good sign. If we want to upgrade, and don't want to reach with Hardesty in the 2nd round, Tate could be a great substitute in the 4th. In fact, I may rate Tate higher than Hardesty.

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