It has been well chronicled that I was never in the camp of Fresno State, and now San Diego Chargers, running back Ryan Mathews. Something that was even more intensified by his comments about Houston to the San Diego media about how he was "getting scared" at the thought of coming to Houston. But it was reiterated time and time again the past couple of months that Houston would be taking running back in the first two rounds of this year's draft. So, after the selection of cornerback Kareem Jackson in the first round, the suspense was taken out of what the team was going to do at pick #51 as the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft began.
Well, Smithiak added as much drama to it as possible. With no running back picked before Houston hit the clock, everyone and their mother thought the pick was going to be Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. But this is where the people who whined all day about Houston not trading back in the first round got what they asked for...and then some.
When it was announced that Houston had traded the pick to Minnesota in exchange for their second and third round picks, the Gerhart-mania that had seemingly taken hold of the Houston radio airwaves the past 24 hours reached suicide watch as the Vikings immediately took the Heisman runner-up at 51 overall. Even everyone's favorite Texans beat writer voiced his discontent with the decision. However, most of BRB nation had the same reaction as when San Diego traded up for Ryan Mathews the night before: Jubilation.
But this is where it got hairy. Houston then traded back up from the 62nd pick that they got from Minnesota to the 58 spot to select Auburn RB Ben Tate. Who just happens to be the back that was at the top of my personal depth chart.
I was already a fan of making Tate a Texan over a month ago, but after getting the privilege of interviewing him earlier this week, it all but clinched it for me. He told me that he felt he was the most complete back in this entire draft and that he could be a power back that we need at the goalline and the speed back we need to carry the load as an every-down back.
Tate, originally thought to be a third rounder, raised his stock at the NFL combine by posting a 40 time of 4.43 (which was later revised to 4.34, faster than C.J. Spiller) and benching 26 reps of 225 lbs. He is listed at 5′11″ and 220 lbs. The funny thing is that he thought he could run a better 40 time and was going to run it again at Auburn’s pro day, but his agent advised otherwise.
Tate is a downhill runner who benefits from positioning himself a yard or two behind his quarterback, which allows him a split second more to survey the defense and make a move. He’s also a durable runner who is a receiving threat out of the backfield.
A true "workhorse," Tate carried the ball over 263 times his senior season while accumulating 1,362 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. He loves contact and doesn’t shy away from it, which is important when in comes to blocking in pass protection. Something that Slaton has struggled with the past couple of years due to his size.
He runs with physicality and is good at exploding through holes. He’s at his best running between the tackles. A real one cut and go guy who doesn’t "dance" to gain yardage. Sounds like a perfect fit for the ZBS that Houston is running.
But I don’t think you could get better value at pick #58 than Ben Tate. Many say he is a power back. While others say he is a speed back. And like I said, If you ask him, he is "The most complete back in the draft." With a team that has struggled at getting the ball in the end zone in goalline situations, a complete back sound like just the remedy the Houston backfield needed.
I know most of the BRB nation was against taking a running back before the third round. But I am ecstatic with this pick. Much more than I would have been with Toby Gerhart.