40 time will be big for Notre Dame's Tate

INDIANAPOLIS— One of the more intriguing 40-yard dash times that we need to pay attention to when it comes to rookie prospects at the Combine is Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate.

Tate had a gathering of microphones around him when he took the podium today in Indianapolis and the early speculation is that Tate — who didn’t look an inch over 5-10 — will have to run a sub-4.5 time to be considered a first-round talent.

As the NFP’s Aaron Wilson wrote today, there is plenty of interest in the former Notre Dame star, but after going against questionable secondary talent during the ’09 season in South Bend, Tate will most likely be a second or third-round draft pick.

The issue with most wide receivers in the transition from college to the NFL is the matchups they see outside of the numbers. They don’t see press-man coverage too often at the college level, and they struggle to get off the line of scrimmage and create separation vs. NFL defensive backs.

But, the interest is still there due to the fact that Tate is coming from South Bend under Charlie Weis and did produce in an offense that resembles what we see on Sundays at the NFL level.

However, the talk around Indy today concerning Tate is that he will have to make a living at the next level as a slot receiver — a No. 3 guy who can use his skills in the open field to produce yards after the catch. Think of an offense like Arizona’s or New England’s, which both get the ball to their underneath receivers with space to work with. The slants, the seam route vs. a nickel corner or a strong safety, the underneath drag route — all which could be a big part of Tate’s game as a pro.

The majority of league scouts see Tate running a 4.5 or higher this weekend, and that should keep him out of the first round. But he will still have plenty of interest and could be a steal in the middle rounds if a club is looking for a receiver who can produce after the catch.

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