Tate reflects on draft 'letdown'

Dave Birkett Detroit Free Press
ND Insider

When Golden Tate left Notre Dame with a year of eligibility remaining after the 2009 season, he thought he’d find a home somewhere in the first round of the NFL draft.

Six years later, he has a word of warning for all the prospects expecting to go in Thursday’s first round: Don’t believe the mock-draft hype.

“First off, I would never go to the draft, just because the letdown is just -- if I’m guaranteed one, two, three, four, five, then maybe I’d go,” Tate said last week. “But I would say just go enjoy your day. Go do something that’s going to take your mind off it. For me, if I could do it all over again, I would probably go golfing, I’d go fishing. I would spend time with my family, friends, whoever. But sitting, staring at the TV is so nerve-wracking. It is so nerve-wracking. So if I get drafted in something else, I’m not watching it.”

Tate said he expected to go somewhere between the 28th and 32nd pick in the 2010 draft. He even went to New York the week of the draft and attended ESPN the Magazine’s annual predraft party.

But when the first round ended, Tate was still on the board.

“At the time, I knew that if I didn’t go (late in the first round), I was going to be in the first six picks of the second round, and that did not happen,” Tate said. “I sat in that room with the cameras on me for hours on the second day and started to get discouraged, started to question myself.”

The Seattle Seahawks eventually took Tate with the 60th overall pick.

He was the fifth receiver off the board, behind first-round picks Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant and second-rounders Dexter McCluster and Arrelious Benn.

Both McCluster, who has played mostly as a pass-catching running back in the NFL, and Benn went in the first seven picks of the second round, but neither has enjoyed the career that Tate has.

Tate won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in his fourth season, then signed a five-year, $31-million contract with the Detroit Lions in 2014. He led the team in receptions the last two years, and his 90 catches last season are 31 more than Benn had his entire career.

“(When) I got that call from Seattle, from coach (Pete) Carroll and, right then and there, you totally forget about where you’re drafted,” Tate said. “You then become thankful that you were drafted where you were, and my mentality was just to prove those other teams -- I was about to use a bad word -- those other teams wrong. Just go fight your tail off, and I’m a strong believer that God doesn’t make mistakes. He had a plan and He has a plan for me, and that plan worked out. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would do it the same exact way. I would go exactly where I went, how I went, get my Super Bowl ring and come on to Detroit.”

Former Notre Dame and current Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate does not have many happy memories of his NFL draft day experience. AP File photo/DUANE BURLESON