Believe me, I know you know by now. You've heard it a million times from every sporting outlet in the nation. Calvin Johnson has retired from football. Since Calvin mentioned retirement as a potential possibility, the biggest queston around town is can Golden Tate be a number one receiver in the NFL?
This is a question that's received answers of all types. Answers like "no he can't" or "he benefited from Calvin Johnson." The sky has appeared to have fallen in the city of Detroit. Not only do some Lions fans think Tate can't be a number one guy, but they have a plethora of uniformed national media outlets to back up their notion. Today I aim to prove this theory wrong and show that what the Lions have in Golden Tate is truly something special. No need to look to the draft for a wide receiver next year, because Golden Tate is the perfect man for the job. Here's why.
First off, the simplest fact of them all: Golden Tate can flat out catch the ball. You can see that plain as day in the stat books. Tate has finished in the top ten in the league in receptions the past two seasons in a row. Sixth in 2014 and 10th in 2015. That's a pretty good quality to have in a number one receiver. Tate also rarely misses the ball. Football Outsiders gave Tate a catch rate of 70 percent. Only six receivers in the NFL have a higher catch rate than Tate. Worried about drops? No problem. Tate has been known to be one of the league's more sure handed receivers. He did struggle a little with drops in 2014, if catching 99 balls and dropping six is struggling. In 2015 he caught 90 balls and cut the drops down to three. Tate's ability to catch can't be called into question.
What he does after he's caught the ball
This is by far the most exciting portion of Tate's game. While you'll lose out on the unbelievable SportsCenter catches that Calvin Johnson could make, you'll love the plays that Tate can make nearly as much. Tate is a proven master of the yards after the catch game. In fact, he led all receivers in YAC in 2014, then slipped down to fourth in 2015. Overall he accounted for an extra 525 yards after making a catch. That equates to somewhere in the neighborhood of 33 extra yards per game. Also extremely important is that Tate rarely fumbles the ball. In 2015, he fumbled just one time. All told, he's only fumbled eight times in his six year career. That's not bad when you consider that Julio Jones fumbled three times last year, five in the last two years.
Frankly this is the most important thing to have. Golden Tate is a passionate guy that wants to take on this challenge. You could really see that when the Lions lost Calvin Johnson for three games in 2014. Tate jumped into the number one spot and flourished. The Lions would go on to win all three of the games that Tate started, while Golden racked up 349 yards and two touchdowns over that span. It's safe to say that Golden earned his Pro Bowl spot in that time. Being a former Super Bowl champion also brings a certain presence in the locker room. Add on that he's now the veteran of the offense and you have a guy that will speak up and help the young guys come along in their careers.
It's really very simple in the end. Add up Tate's catching ability, what he can do with the ball after he catches it and his attitude. What you've got is a very exciting player that's more than ready to be "the guy" on offense. Marvin Jones being a similar player who has some size on Tate only enhances what Tate can do. Throw in Theo Riddick and an improving Eric Ebron, and you have receiving threats that are pretty tough to stop.