NFL DRAFT 2010: WIDE RECEIVERS

Wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame likely will be one of the top players at his position selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, and could go some time in the first round.

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Golden Tate of Notre Dame Likely to be Among First Receivers Selected in 2010 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS – One truth is, Golden Tate is like any other college football player.

That means Tate, a wide receiver who played collegiately at Notre Dame, will play anywhere in the NFL. Whatever team drafts him, and wherever that team drafts him, he said he will play and be happy to do it.

Still, Tate said there's another truth.

And considering his background, and considering the reason he chose to play at Notre Dame, he said it's actually not a surprising truth. That truth is this:

He wouldn't mind playing for Kansas City.

Because although the Chiefs finished 4-12 last season, Kansas City is the current NFL home of Charlie Weis, the coach who recruited him to play for Notre Dame and who now is entering his first season as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator.

And that would be an opunity Tate said he would cherish.

"It's always going to be a dream to play for the head coach who taught me how to be a receiver," Tate said at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis in late February. "That's going to be a dream. But to be honest, I want to play for whoever thinks I can help them next year.

"Whoever thinks I can come in, make a difference right away and help them go to a Super Bowl, that's who I want to play for."

Tate (5-feet-10¼, 194 pounds), an early-entry junior, widely is considered one of the top two or three receivers available in the 2010 NFL Draft, which will be held April 22-24 in New York City. Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State and Demaryius Thomas of Georgia Tech are also considered first-round possibilities at wide receiver.

And although Notre Dame struggled at times in its last two seasons under Weis, Tate during that time emerged as one of the elite play-making wide receivers in college football.

Tate, who caught 157 passes for 2,707 yards and 26 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons, this past season caught 93 passes for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns, receiving the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football's top wide receiver.

Those were big-time numbers, and they were numbers helped by what Tate said he believes is his biggest strength.

"Being able to break tackles," Tate said. "If you go back and watch film, it's kind of tough for guys to tackle me. My speed has always been one of my strengths. Also my hands. I think I have a decent grip on the ball. Once it touches my hands it's not going anywhere."

But most importantly, the numbers Tate posted as a junior matched almost identically the statistics Weis told him he likely would need to make declaring early for the NFL draft a wise decision.

"Funny story," he said. "I spoke with Coach Weis before the season, before we played a down before camp. He said, 'Unless you have around 1,500 yards and around 16 or 17 touchdowns I would not leave early.' I had 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. Another thing: Before I made any decisions, we sat down and spoke. The pros were better than the cons, we thought.

"So we made the decision to enter the draft early."

Once the decision was made, Tate's stock continued to rise, particularly at the combine. While he said at the combine he expected to run the 40-yard dash somewhere in the 4.5-second-range, he ran a hand-timed 4.36- and 4.37-second 40 in Indianapolis.

That speed and his play-making ability have prompted comparisons to not only 2009 NFL Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin, a first-round draft selection of the Minnesota Vikings, but to perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers.

"A lot of ya'll probably think the same thing – similar size, similar build, very physical, not afraid to go over the middle," Tate said of Smith. "I model my game after him. I'm not afraid to go over the middle and catch a ball or throw a block."

Of Harvin, Tate said, "I like what Minnesota has done with him this year, moving him all around -- in the backfield, in motion, the Wildcat. Hopefully, a team will see that in me and, hopefully, draft me."

Whatever team that is, Tate said they'll be receiving a player ready to do whatever is necessary to be productive professionally in-season and in the off-season.

"I'm coming to the NFL working," he said. "I'm trying to make a name for myself and be successful. That's kind of my motto: Don't be satisfied. Don't be satisfied with just getting invited to the combine. Don't be satisfied with just getting drafted. Don't be satisfied with just playing. I want to be great. I want to win Super Bowls. I want to go to Pro Bowls. I want to be in the Hall of Fame. I think my mindset is on the right path to don't be satisfied. I'm just going to be dedicated to being the best that I can in the NFL and see where that takes me.

"I've spoken with a bunch of guys who've played in the league like Coach Roy Green, Rob Moore. Those guys told me it's about your off-season. It's how you prepare yourself in the off-season, how strong you get, and fast and endurance. I think if my work ethic goes as planned, I'm going to enter the season prepared and that will limit my injuries.

"I want to beat the average life span and do great things there, but I think it starts with my off-season. So I'm going to hit that hard."

And while Tate said he obviously will play anywhere, he ideally would parlay that work ethic into a long career playing for the person who recruited him to Notre Dame.

"I think that's one of the reasons I accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame," Weis said. "I knew that the situation I was going into that Coach Weis was a professional-caliber coach. The system's got to be similar. So I knew that I would have a head start when I decided to pursue my dream and play professional football.

"That was one of the things going into college that I understood. He came from the Patriots, won championships, and I knew that I'm going to get better and learn the game."

BREAKING DOWN THE 2010 NFL DRAFT'S TOP WIDE RECEIVERS
The wide receiver position in the 2010 NFL Draft is considered relatively deep, but this year much of the depth is beyond the first round. While Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate improved his stock by running well at the combine, Dez Bryant – generally considered the top wide receiver in the draft – has been one of the main stories of the pre-draft process because of off-field questions. There are also questions about Bryant's speed after he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at his individual workout in Lufkin, Texas on March 31. Demaryius Thomas of Georgia Tech also is considered a first-round possibility at receiver, but he sustained a broken foot on February 16, and he may not be 100 percent until after the draft.

ON THE COLTS' ROSTER
Reggie Wayne, 10th season, Miami; Anthony Gonzalez, fourth season, Ohio State; Pierre Garcon, third season, Mount Union; Austin Collie, second season, Brigham Young; Taj Smith, Syracuse, first season; John Matthews, first season, San Diego; Dudley Guice, first season, Northwestern State; Sam Giguere, Sherbrooke, first season.

THE LAST FIVE
The last five wide receivers drafted by the Colts . . .

2009: Austin Collie, fourth round, Brigham Young.

2008: Pierre Garcon, sixth round, Mount Union.

2007: Roy Hall, fifth round, Ohio State.

2007: Anthony Gonzalez, first round, Ohio State.

2001: Reggie Wayne, first round, Miami.

THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 20 wide receivers expected to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft . . .

Arrelious Benn*, Illinois, 6-1, 219

Dezmon Briscoe*, Kansas, 6-2, 207

Dez Bryant*, Oklahoma State, 6-2, 225

Riley Cooper, Florida, 6-4, 222

Eric Decker, Minnesota, 6-3, 217

Jacoby Ford, Clemson, 5-9, 186

David Gettis, Baylor, 6-3, 217

Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati, 6-0, 187

Brandon LaFell, LSU, 6-3, 211

Dexter McCluster, Mississippi, 5-9, 172

Carlton Mitchell*, South Florida, 6-3, 215

Taylor Price, Ohio, 6-1, 204

Andre Roberts, Citadel, 5-11, 195

Jordan Shipley, Texas, 5-11, 193

Golden Tate*, Notre Dame, 5-10, 199

Demaryius Thomas*, Georgia Tech, 6-3, 224

Blair White, Michigan State, 6-2, 209

Damian Williams*, Southern Cal, 6-1, 197

Mike Williams*, Syracuse, 6-2, 221

Jeremy Williams, Tulane, 6-0, 206

*Early-entry junior.

Note: The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.

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