The Bengals drafted Auden Tate with their final pick in the seventh round of this year’s NFL draft. It seemed as soon as he was drafted that he was destined to be a practice squad player due to the competition at receiver, but after turning some heads this offseason, there is a reasonable chance of him actually making the roster starting to emerge.
Weight: 228 pounds
College: Florida State
Hometown: Irmo, SC
Auden Tate is entering the first season of his rookie deal worth around $2.5 million over four years, according to Spotrac. His cap hit is under $500,000 this season, and he will become a free agent following the 2021 season.
Tate was a star at Florida State the same way former Seminoles receiver Kelvin Benjamin was before him. He quickly became known for his jump ball ability, which allowed him to rack up 16 touchdowns over his two seasons with the team.
Besides being a red-zone machine, Tate didn’t offer the Seminoles offense much else. He only had 957 receiving yards over two seasons and 65 receptions, though this could be due to the lack of quality quarterback play at Florida State.
Since joining the Bengals though he has routinely impressed with his insane catch radius.
A.J. Green has even started calling him young Brandon Marshall. Catching the attention of the best receiver on the team says quite a bit about the natural ability of the 21-year old. Tate has even started working with Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss during the offseason.
It is becoming more an more apparent just how seriously Tate is taking this opportunity with the Bengals. It would have been easy for him to show up and realize his future was to spend a season on the practice squad developing. Instead, he came out firing like his job was on the line, and it may end up causing the Bengals to make some tough decisions.
If the Bengals didn’t have so many young receivers, it would be an easier road for Tate. However, the numbers game will make this insanely tough for him to make his way onto the 53-man roster.
As of now, Tate has a number of receivers he is competing with for a roster spot. That list includes Cody Core, Alex Erickson, Ka’Raun White, Kermit Whitfield and even Brandon LaFell. You could add Tyler Boyd to that list as well, but his exit from the roster would also be based on the team trading him away rather than just cutting him.
That is plenty of competition for Tate, who is still pretty raw at the position overall. He is an enticing niche player, and he really excels in his specialization. As a red-zone target, he provides an instant upgrade for a team that really needs to be more productive in that area of the field.
Just imagine having Green, Tyler Eifert and Tate all on the field at once. Andy Dalton is almost guaranteed a one-on-one matchup with one of those guys, and each of them are great at making contested catches.
Overall though, unless the Bengals decide it is time to move on from LaFell and another young receiver, Tate’s path to the final roster seems like a longer shot than it should be for the kind of player he is. Also, not having the ability to contribute as much on special teams due to his speed will really hurt his chances of beating out other young receivers.
The good news is Tate’s floor is on the practice squad, where he is one call away from being on the roster.
Roster odds: 25 percent.