The Potential for Greatness in Golden Tate

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Lamar Odom was destined to be special. Men his size are not supposed to have hops, quickness or an ability to dribble penetrate. Watch the Lakers and you'll still see flashes of the player Odom was supposed to become. Destiny derailed and now Odom is a sixth-man that regularly frustrates teammate Kobe Bryant. Bryant wasn't destined to be special. He was good, very good, the first guard ever selected out of high school, but not the scout's fantasy that Odom was.

The 1996 NBA draft included 58 players. The 2010 NFL draft included 255. If a meaningful conversion could be made, and it can't really, but whatever, Bryant's spot would be about equivalent to Golden Tate's. 13th overall is in NBA terms a late second-round pick in the NFL. Something in the 55 to 60 range. Many things helped Bryant exceed his draft spot, but none were more important than youth. Youth is a universal currency.

Tate has time to get better. He's just 21. If I don't seem concerned about minor hitches in his route running, it's because he's already shown tremendous growth in a short amount of time and he's young. Route-running is the premier skill of playing wide receiver. It encompasses much of what makes a wide receiver successful: deception, cutting, footwork, concentration. But, as a skill, it's an expression of talent: agility, explosiveness and coordination. Tate is still learning his craft, but he has time and a deep well of raw talent to draw from.

1. 1st and 10 at ND 32 Jimmy Clausen pass incomplete to Theo Riddick.

Tate fights off the press and comes free between zones. Clausen targets Riddick but Riddick drops an easy reception.

Quick aside: Clausen's limited arm strength made it hard for his receivers. Pitt made no bones about smothering the short game and it was clear to anyone with a pulse that Clausen couldn't beat you deep. So, bear that in mind. Tate has the speed to develop into an excellent deep receiver, but his current strength is short passes and run after catch. Facing lots of press coverage and a generally flooded underneath made it difficult for Tate.

2. 2nd and 10 at ND 32 Theo Riddick rush for a loss of 1 yard to the NDame 31.  

Tate moves up to block but does not factor. Draw right.

3. 3rd and 11 at ND 31 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Armando Allen Jr for 4 yards to the NDame 35.

Tate runs a square in from the left flat. It's round but fast, the kind of cut DeSean Jackson kills you with, and so not textbook but promising. He flies free but the play is undone. Jabaal Sheard*, he of awesome name, cuts and forces back and spins into and through Sam Young. Sam Young sucks. No qualifications. Sucks. Clausen scrambles left and outlet passes but the raft of short zones make a first down about impossible for Allen.

*Sheard is yet another name to track this season. He could be a value pick in the 2011 defensive end class for the ages.

(Punt)

1. 1st and 10 at ND 20 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Michael Floyd for 11 yards to the NDame 31 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.

Good release. Clausen keys Floyd and finds him with a well-timed pass. Tate does not factor.

2. 1st and 10 at ND 31 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Armando Allen Jr for 6 yards to the NDame 37.

Decent release. Clausen doesn't look Tate's way and I don't get a look at his contributions past the snap. DNF.

3. 2nd and 4 at ND 37 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Golden Tate for 2 yards to the NDame 39.

Concentration in traffic is one thing that separates good hands-men in college like Keary Colbert and truly gifted NFL receivers. So, witness as I blow a two-yard reception way out of proportions.

Pitt has the pass rush to keep a 4-3 on the field against most formations. Notre Dame is split four wide, but the Panthers substitute linebacker for linebacker instead of adding a nickel- and or dimeback. Tate is the wide man among three wide receivers on the left. Above him is Aaron Berry. Soon to be bearing down on him in a bad way is nickel linebacker Elijah Fields.

Tate runs a two-yard square in. Berry closes over top. As the pass zips towards Tate, Fields nears head on. Tate is running directly into a tackle. He receives, is hit, holds on and is run back 13 yards before Adam Gunn lands the finishing tackle. That's concentration under imminent attack and it proves vital to sustaining the Irish drive. Forward progress nets Notre Dame two yards.

4. 3rd and 2 at ND 39 Armando Allen Jr rush for 1 yard to the NDame 40.

No block.

5. 4th and 1 at ND 40 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Michael Floyd for 45 yards to the Pitt 15 for a 1ST down.

[Out]

6. 1st and 10 at PITT 15 Jimmy Clausen pass incomplete.

Good release. Deflected pass.

7. 2nd and 10 at PITT 15 NOTRE DAME penalty 10 yard Holding accepted.

Tate streaks into the end zone drawing cover and that frees John Goodman along the right sideline. Holding kills the play.

(Penalties galore)

(Berry leaves because of injury)

8. 2nd and 20 at PITT 25 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Golden Tate for 10 yards to the Pitt 15 out-of-bounds.

Good separation on a curl route, but we don't get to see the cut. It's possible Chapel is playing a conservative off and thus allows the underneath reception. The best part, Chapel dives for Tate's legs and bounces off and around Tate forcing a defiant stare-down and tap on the butt from Tate.

9. 3rd and 10 at PITT 15 Jimmy Clausen pass complete to Michael Floyd for 12 yards to the Pitt 3 out-of-bounds for a 1ST down.

Clausen locks onto Floyd, who is matched against Berry's replacement. It works. Tate never factors. So-so release off the line.

10. 1st and Goal at PITT 3 Armando Allen Jr rush for 2 yards to the Pitt 1.

[Out]

11. 2nd and Goal at PITT 1 Armando Allen Jr rush for no gain to the Pitt 1.

[Out]

12. 3rd and Goal at PITT 1 Jimmy Clausen rush for 1 yard for a TOUCHDOWN.

QB sneak.

XFINITY from Comcast is a proud supporter of Field Gulls. You’ll get your Seahawks games as a part of over 120 NFL games XFINITY provides in HD, as well as On Demand game recaps from every NFL game every week, faster Internet speeds, and stunning HD. With XFINITY and NFL RedZone, you get every touchdown from every game every Sunday afternoon! Call 1-800-XFINITY or visit http://www.xfinity.com.

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