The former Florida State wide receiver has the potential to be one of the first taken in the 2018 NFL Draft
As football continues to evolve, one thing remains constant: you need to be able to score touchdowns — especially in the red zone — to win games.
Today's NFL is loaded will smaller, athletic receivers that eat up targets and move the ball between the 20s. But once near the goal line, having a big-bodied, sure-handed target is priceless. If you have a guy like that on your team, you feel a lot better about converting a long drive into six points rather than setting for a field goal in the red zone.
Former Florida State wide receiver Auden Tate is one of those guys.
Tate is an athletic playmaker with good size (6-5, 225) for a wide receiver. He challenges smaller corners with his speed on deep routes and creates an instant mismatch with his height and leaping ability. Through his short collegiate career, he also displayed a knack for finding the soft spot in coverage on shorter routes. Additionally, he excels as a runner after the catch, displaying great vision and surprising elusiveness on short passes like bubble screens.
Tate's 2017 season didn't go quite as well as it probably should have — largely due to a season-ending injury to Florida State starting quarterback Deondre Francois suffered in the first game of the season. Despite that and only catching 40 passes, he was still able to lead the ACC in touchdown receptions with 10, one of just 16 players in the FBS ranks with at least that many. Those numbers are a result of Tate's ability to attack the ball while it's in the air as well as any receiver in the country.
Looking at the receiving class in this year’s draft, Tate is the largest that played in a Power Five conference. He'll be compared to SMU's Courtland Sutton through the entire process leading right up to the draft, but you may see Tate close the perceived gap between the two at NFL Scouting Combine. A strong 40-yard dash and display of strong, sure hands during the proceedings in Indianapolis could be the difference between Tate going somewhere around the middle of the third round or him potentially working his way into the conversation for consideration as a late first-rounder.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.