After the Bengals addressed their biggest areas of need in the first several rounds this weekend, they decided to go with a developmental prospect at wide receiver with their final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Auden Tate, former Florida State Seminoles star, will be the newest addition to a wide receiver corps that boasts two first-round picks already. The Bengals are hoping that he can turn into a big red zone target, which is an area of the field that the Bengals’ struggled with over the last few years.
Since the Bengals did have 11 picks this year, not all of them will be able to make the 53-man roster. Truth be told, Auden Tate might be the odd man out. His speed and route running are what caused him to fall to the end of the draft. If he works out as an NFL player, he might be a situational red zone target or a special teams player.
That being said, here’s what the Bengals have to work with:
What he brings to the Bengals:
Size: Tate will be the biggest wide receiver on the roster, standing at 6’5” and weighing 228 pounds. In terms of stature, Tate is among the biggest receivers in this draft class. He used his frame to box out defenders and to make big red-zone grabs, which is in part why he led Florida State in touchdown receptions in 2017, despite missing four games.
Obviously, A.J. Green is Dalton’s favorite target because of his huge catch radius, but after him, you really only have Tyler Eifert who isn’t always healthy. Tate will provide another big bodied receiver for Dalton, especially in the red zone where the Bengals struggled last season.
Toughness: Tate played through a shoulder injury for most of the year that eventually sidelined him. But backups are only one snap away from playing, so his toughness and grit should translate to longevity and availability as the season comes to a close.
Youth: Tate turned 21 in February, so the Bengals are tap into his potential early and develop him into solid contributor down the road.
Why this pick makes sense:
Red zone target: Tate caught 10 touchdowns in eight games in 2017. His size and strength make him a perfect red zone target. He excelled in out-jumping cornerbacks and using his strong hands to make difficult grabs. The Bengals need to find a way to make it into the end zone, so adding Tate will help that end.
Lack of production: It is no secret that aside Green last season that no one did anything from the receiving position to help out Dalton. Some of it was due to injury, but a lot of it was the fact these guys just weren’t good enough. Injecting Tate into a competition with the likes of Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Josh Malone for snaps makes too much sense considering the production those players got last season. If nothing else he can push those guys to try harder.
Special teams ability: As is the case with many seventh-round picks, Tate is going to have to prove himself on special teams. Given his size and lack of speed, Darrin Simmons might try to use him as a blocker on punts or kickoffs. Special teams is something that the Bengals have been trying to address in the draft though, especially with the Mark Walton and Davontae Harris picks.
Potential possession receiver: While early on Tate’s value will come from his red-zone ability he could eventually turn into a serious third-down target. He is still a somewhat raw prospect who needs to polish up his games, but the Bengals really need a guy who can win one on one battles on the outside on third down to help keep this offense moving.
One of the major reasons the Bengals struggled in time of possession was not being able to stay on the field. Having a few easy third downs where Tate just boxes out a smaller corner would go a long way.