Can Khalil Tate be “the next Greg Ward” for this Philadelphia Eagles team?
Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate was once expected to compete for the Heisman trophy, but as fate would have it, things certainly didn’t turn out that way. He did throw for 6,318 yards and 57 touchdowns while running for 2,285 yards and 18 touchdowns over the course of his four years at the collegiate level, but he also threw 31 interceptions and completed just 58 percent of his passes while going 13-19 as a starter.
Being replaced by a true freshman isn’t exactly the best way to finish out your collegiate career, but Tate made the most of it. Switching to wide receiver for his pro career with the Philadelphia Eagles won’t be easy but it’s definitely the right call based on what we saw in Arizona.
Unfortunately for Tate, this is one of the worst offseasons to switch positions with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s going to be challenging enough for the rookies who are still developing at their current positions and are trying to transition into the NFL. Considering the solid competition the Eagles will have at wide receiver and the fact that the ceiling for him is a spot on the practice squad, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Tate when he arrives at camp in Philly.
What are the expectations for Khalil Tate in the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp?
With the difficulty of trying to make a position switch and transition to the league, the Eagles are going to want to see the result of the work that Tate has put in this offseason. At the very least, the 21-year-old needs to show that he’s a guy who’s going to come into camp hungry and with a chip on his shoulder. He needs to fight during every single practice rep and take advantage of any opportunity to get extra work in practice. With that said, expect him to be on the field in the preseason late in games (if there are indeed games). At the time of this story being published, that determination hasn’t been made yet.
It’s likely Eagles fans won’t see much of him unless they stick around for the second half of a couple of games that don’t count. Maybe they’ll run a few special packages with him at a quarterback and give him some open space to run.
Here’s what Philadelphia Eagles fans should expect from Khalil Tate in 2020.
In all honesty, Tate has zero chance at making the active roster and a slim chance at getting on the practice squad. He was given the lowest amount of guaranteed money of any Eagles undrafted free agent, but despite all of that, all hope isn’t lost for him. The Eagles may not go the route of throwing him to the curb.
Think about guys like Cam Johnston, who joined the Eagles while Donnie Jones was still on the roster. There wasn’t initially a spot for him. One year later, Jones retired and Johnston was brought back to the team right away. Jordan Mailata has clearly not been able to show that he’s ready to join the active roster. Instead of using a practice squad spot to keep him, they put him on injured reserve with some “back issues” before the season. That isn’t to say Philly was dishonest, but there have been situations in which players have had minor injuries and placed on the IR to keep them with the team. With that being said, if the Eagles want to be creative, there are ways to keep Tate around.
Despite an underwhelming college career, Tate did show what he can do with his legs in the open field. In 2017, he ran all over Colorado for 327 yards and four touchdowns on only 14 carries. In the same season, he ran for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries versus UCLA and 206 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries against Oregon State. Doing that in the Pac-12 is worthy of some respect.
Greg Ward is someone who Tate can look to for guidance during this preseason. Ward came into the league as a five-foot-eleven, 21-year-old project at wide receiver. He went undrafted and spent three years going back and forth between the practice squad and free agency. He even spent some time in the AAF (American Alliance of Football) during one offseason. After those three years of hard work, Philly rewarded him with a promotion to the active roster, and he became one of the key playmakers for the team.
Ward was a bit more successful at quarterback during his college career but there’s some resemblance between the two. Tate is heading into camp at just 21-years-old and standing at six-foot. It’s going to take a lot of extra work and dedication for Tate succeed like Ward and who knows if he’ll ever get the same opportunity that Ward did but it’s not out of the question. At best, we’ll see Tate make some strides in the preseason in the next couple of years but don’t expect anything from him anytime soon. Update: Eagles waive Khalil Tate on July 20th