The Philadelphia Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent quarterback-turned-wide receiver Khalil Tate following the 2020 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about him, I reached out to SB Nation’s Arizona blog: Arizona Desert Swarm. Wildcats writer Brian Pedersen was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you recap his college career?
The best way to describe Khalil Tate’s college career was unpredictable since it always seemed to zig when you were expecting a zag. He was a 4-star prospect who didn’t show much promise until the fifth game of his sophomore year in 2017 when, after starting quarterback Brandon Dawkins was injured early at Colorado, he went off. Tate ran for an FBS QB-record 327 yards and 4 TDs, starting a 6-game run in which he was unstoppable. Opponents started to figure out his running late in the 2017 season, but he responded by throwing for 302 yards and 5 TDs in a bowl game, setting the stage for a junior campaign that garnered a slew of Heisman hype (and a Sports Illustrated cover). Arizona went through a coaching change that offseason, replacing Rich Rodriguez with Kevin Sumlin, and when the 2018 slate began Tate almost exclusively threw the ball in the opener with mixed results. An ankle injury in the second game further hampered his running, and he ended the season with very small numbers on the ground but more than 2,500 passing yards and 26 TDs. Tate returned for his senior year but ended up eventually splitting reps with true freshman Grant Gunnell, not even starting his final home game.
2) What are his strengths?
Tate has great speed for a QB, which should translate well to receiver if he can learn the routes. He is great in the open field, so give him some space and he should be able to run past anyone. And if the Eagles want to do any trickery he’s got a cannon for an arm.
3) What are his weaknesses?
While his arm strength is top notch, his accuracy is not. The same goes for his durability, as he missed time in each of the last two seasons with lower body injuries (ankle, hip) and toward the end of his career showed an aversion to taking contact.
4) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
Not really. No team was going to use a pick on him as a QB, and prior to the draft he seemed unwilling to switch positions, which further lowered his stock.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out as he transitions to WR?
I think Tate has a long, uphill battle for make it in the NFL. Being a practice team guy for the first year or two seems like the best, bet, but if he gets thrust into a game situation he might run on adrenaline early on and make a splash.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Tate didn’t have any public issues off the field, though the word on the street was he wasn’t particularly the best teammate. He wasn’t hated but he wasn’t adored, either. If he can be humble and work hard he should be able to overcome that.
BLG’s take: The Eagles only gave Tate $10,000 guaranteed, which is tied with Dante Olson for the lowest amount out of their UDFA signings. The odds are really stacked against him sticking around as he switches positions during an offseason where practice reps will be more limited than usual. Maybe Tate finds a way to make the practice squad if the Eagles feel like he can either be a Taysom Hill-type gadget player or follow in the footsteps of Greg Ward. Even so, Tate is a long-term play at best.