The Case For Golden TateFebruary 8th, 2014
Earlier this week, Joe linked to his good friend Justin Pawlowski, “The Commish,” of WHFS-FM 98.7, who did some research and came up with a top 10 list of value free agents on the market that could likely make an impact for the Bucs.
Among the names on Pawlowski’s list was Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate. Joe was OK with having Tate. He’s not Vincent Jackson or Larry Fitzgerald, but then again, the Bucs just need a solid No. 3 guy for good depth.
Then last night surfing through Twitter, still unnerved at what has become of network TV news channels, Joe discovered data from the spreadsheeters over at ProFootballFocus.com that truly changed Joe’s mind about Tate.
In short, Tate does not drop (many) passes, so the spreadsheeters document.
You can’t blame fans for underestimating Golden Tate. Nothing about his 5-foot-10 frame or 898 receiving yards this season screams “No. 1 wide receiver.” While he may not have the physical dominance of a Calvin Johnson or Dez Bryant, he has an underrated reliability and elusiveness that make him a game changer.
While another coach in the NFC West has raved about having the “best catcher ever,” the best hands in the NFL today actually belong to Tate. After dropping just three passes this season, he’s caught 144 of the 149 catchable balls thrown his way since 2011. His 3.9% Drop Rate in that span is the lowest of any wide receiver in the NFL with 100 targets. Tate makes up for his lack of height with an incredible ability to pinpoint the ball in the air, and Russell Wilson is never afraid to give him a chance for a contested catch. Tate’s 189 yards on scramble plays in the last two seasons is the third-most in the NFL, a testament to his rapport with his quarterback.
When we named Tate the Seahawks’ Secret Superstar last offseason, we also noted his incredible elusiveness after the catch. He continued that trend in 2013, leading all receivers with 21 forced missed tackles on his receptions. Teammate Percy Harvin is one of the most dangerous players in the league with the ball in his hands, averaging a missed tackle for every 4.7 receptions in the last three seasons. Who is the only player with a better rate on 100 receptions? That would be Tate, who amazingly averages a missed tackle for every 2.8 catches.
Consider Joe sold. Having a great pair of hands is something that is difficult to buy. In fact, that’s pretty much invaluable. Joe also likes the way Tate finds a way to get open when a quarterback is flushed from a pocket. That’s a skill critical to help Johnny Football.
As a great bonus, the explosive Tate, the next wide receiver drafted after Arrelious Benn in 2010, also was the 10th-ranked punt returner in the NFL last season among players with 20 or more returns.
Joe has no way of knowing if the Seahawks will break out the checkbook of Paul Allen to keep Tate, but this is a transaction that bears monitoring.
Tate has now become Joe’s second target in a raid of the Seahawks’ roster. The other player is, of course, Michael Bennett.