Whether you agree with it or not, the Cincinnati Bengals, when at full strength, have one of the best receiving corps in the entire NFL. While the health aspect is a strong factor, the depth at the position for Cincinnati is unparalleled by former Bengals teams.
A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Tee Higgins all have their spots locked. Likely only keeping six receivers on the roster, the Bengals will choose two of Alex Erickson, Auden Tate, Damion Willis and Mike Thomas.
It’ll be a tough battle, but Tate is starting to separate himself as a top-five receiver on the roster. An absolute nightmare in the red zone, offensive coordinator Brian Callahan heaped praise on the team’s seventh-round pick in 2018.
Catching the first touchdown of the day on August 20 from a red-zone fade, Tate’s ability to be an instant mismatch could be what helps his case to crack the final roster. Callahan called Tate “a catch-radius monster” after he went over 6-foot Tony Brown for the touchdown.
“Anytime you get Tate one-on-one with the ball in the air. He’s proven in NFL gamers he’ll win those matchups. Big body. Really strong hands. Large catch radius. He can go up and get balls not everybody can get,” Callahan said according to Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson.
Second-year head coach Zac Taylor also got in on complementing the receiver entering his third season in the NFL.
“From a talent standpoint, Auden is one of the guys you can point to as a great representative of that because he comes about his job, he’s professional every day. He just needs to be told once what to do and he’s going to be physical about it, he’s going to be detailed about it, he’s going to make the plays that come his way and that is what you are looking for in a football player,” Taylor said.
Tate recorded 40 receptions on 80 targets last season so his catch rate wasn’t the best, but he did make a few absolute incredible catches, oftentimes being a top-three target for then veteran quarterback Andy Dalton.
Starting ten games last season, Tate collected 29 first downs. A strong 2019 campaign showed what he’s capable of, and now he’ll have the chance to prove he belongs yet again in 2020.