The biggest wide receiver currently on the Bengals’ roster is in a fight to make the final cut, and his size will likely work to his advantage.
Auden Tate, a 6-5, 228-lb receiver from Florida State, was drafted by the Bengals in the seventh round with the 253rd overall pick. He’s not a guarantee to make the final cuts, but he’s certainly making an impression with his ability to create space and make flashy catches.
Tate ran just a 4.68 40-yard dash, so he’s not especially fast, but he’s got the size and the length to make up for it, and his teammates are taking notice.
“Unbelievable,” A.J. Green said of Tate’s catches, according to Dan Hoard on Bengals.com. . “We call him a young Brandon Marshall. The guy has unbelievable hands, he’s big (with) great body control. He had a very good (minicamp).”
Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell has also been impressed with Tate, saying that he does things that can’t be taught.
“He’s got a lot of things that you can’t teach,” he said, according to Hoard. “He’s got unbelievable size. He’s got really good body control. He’s got some quickness and he catches the ball the way that he caught it on film when we evaluated him. The first thing I saw with him is that he catches everything and that’s obviously important for us.”
Part of Tate’s ability to catch everything and make receptions that wow his teammates is his ability to catch jump balls. No matter how well he was covered as a receiver at Florida State, if the throw was up, only Tate was going to get to it.
Cincy Jungle’s own John Sheeran went in depth on Tate’s jump ball ability, which you can read more on here.
Tate led the ACC in touchdown receptions last year with 10. With his size and ability to make contested catches, his most likely role is as a red zone target, and according to Hoard, he was frequently targeted in the red zone during minicamp.
If Tate can grab a roster spot after making the positive impressions he’s made, the seventh-round pick will have the potential to carve out an important role in the red zone. The Bengals could use more options inside the 20.
Last year, with the typical red zone staple Tyler Eifert suffering from injuries, Green had a team-high 16 targets and a catch percentage of just 43.75 percent in those situations.
There needs to be another guy step up here, and it sounds like Tate may be that man.