STRENGTHS - Quick and athletic, Tate is comfortable moving and adjusting in pass coverage. He reads the QB/Pass well, can change directions and closes in time to make tackle/hit after the catch. Willing to jam tight end, he can slow release, is able to turn and run without losing a step and has the speed to stay with tight end down the seam. His experience at safety shows up in his good ball skills to make plays on ball. He reads the run quickly, gets started towards the ball carrier fast and has the playing speed to chase down the play in pursuit. Blessed with good body control and balance, Tate makes it look easy staying over feet and tackling well out in space. Although he lacks explosiveness off the ball as a pass rusher, he has the acceleration and playing speed to beat the offensive tackle around the corner when he blitzes from the outside.
WEAKNESSES - Tate is a better athlete than football player right now. While he has the speed to chase down plays all over the field, too often he does not seem interested in making the play and chases just enough to get close while his teammates make the tackle. Despite having the ability to be a very good tackler, too often he stops feet and ends up lunging which leads to missed tackles when he does not stay over feet and under control. He is not a big linebacker and struggles to shed and get free from blockers once they get ahold of him. He is a one trick pony as a pure speed rusher and has no variety of pass rush moves. More than anything, he just does not display an aggressive playing style which limits his ability to make as many plays as he is physically capable of.
SUMMARY - A highly regarded prospect two seasons ago, Tate never showed the talent and production on film to warrant being so highly regarded. A true "tweener" who had the body type and non-aggressive playing mentality of a safety, but lacks the athleticism and coverage skills to be effective playing safety at the NFL level. On the other hand, he has more than enough athleticism and speed to make a lot of plays versus the run and in pass coverage from a linebacker alignment, but is under-sized and does not deal well with blockers, which leads to him being tied up and eliminated from the play too easily. Having begun his college career as a safety, it does not surprise me that he is much more of a finesse player who is more comfortable playing in space then he is in close quarters dealing with traffic and blockers. Overall, I think Tate will be drafted late if he works out well at Maryland's pro day because tall, 220 pound defenders with elite speed are hard to find. However, Tate has not proven to me that he can be a productive starting linebacker or safety in the NFL, so he will have to step up his aggressiveness and intensity to be productive on special teams, which is how he will have to win a roster spot.