You thought the Eagles were done adding speed? Wrong. It’s always speedy in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have agreed to terms with undrafted free agent Khalil Tate, a dual-threat quarterback from Arizona who was once a Heisman Trophy candidate. Philadelphia plans to transition Tate over to wide receiver in another speed-driven move that could prove tortuous for opposing defenders.
NFLPA player advisor Mickey McGill first announced the signing on Twitter and Tate himself soon confirmed the move on Twitter when he posted a picture of himself in a No. 14 midnight green jersey. (For the record, No. 14 is currently owned by Eagles receiver Robert Davis).
Tate threw for 6,318 yards and 57 touchdowns for the Wildcats while running for 2,285 yards and 18 scores. His 75 total touchdowns are a school record. He took over for then-starter Brandon Dawkins five games into the 2017 season and never looked back. He finished with 1,591 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air that season, along with another 1,411 yards and 12 scores on the ground.
It’s another interesting case study for the Eagles as they continue to load their roster with lightning bolts at every position. The team drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round and Tate possesses similar traits to the former Oklahoma star. In fact, Tate entered the 2018 season as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Not too shabby.
Want even more intrigue? The 21-year-old grew up idolizing Donovan McNabb and worked out with the former Eagles great prior to the NFL Draft.
Tate Wanted to Play QB, Not Interested in WR
Khalil Tate looks like a bigger version of Michael Vick on film. And his measurables are almost identical to Lamar Jackson, at 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds. The problem is, Tate doesn’t have the arm — or the accuracy — to match those game-changing quarterbacks at the next level.
How that translates to the NFL is anyone’s guess. There was a strong push to convert Tate to wide receiver in February, but the Arizona product had gone on record saying he wasn’t interested in switching positions. That surly decision cost him a chance at an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine.
“That’s not my plan [to play wide receiver],” Tate told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Not at all. The stigma behind me is that I’m just a runner. But when I get out here and spin the ball in front of them, it opens their eyes. That’s something that they didn’t know I could do.”
How fast is Tate? Well, he wasn’t invited to Combine so there is no official number out there. His predicted 40-yard dash time was hovering around 4.60 seconds. He once turned 14 carries into 327 yards and four touchdowns in a single game at Arizona. The big play potential is undeniable.
Scouting Report: Patience & Long-Term Plan
The Eagles envision Khalil Tate as a wide receiver and his athleticism pops off the screen. He could also prove invaluable on the scout team as a decoy in game-planning for dual-threat quarterbacks. Remember, that was the role Greg Ward thrived in last year for Philly as a member of the practice squad.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com indicated that Tate was a project player who would “require a long-term plan and patience” at either quarterback or receiver.
He does have outstanding size, speed and athletic ability, which plays directly into a positional switch to receiver. His ability to fling the ball around offers intriguing package potential, as well. Ultimately, Tate will require a long-term plan and patience, whether he plays quarterback or receiver, and he’ll have to prove he’s determined enough to do what’s needed to make it.
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