Golden Tate For Hines Ward: Are the Steelers Looking For a Replacement?

steeler junkyContributor IFebruary 26, 2010

SOUTH BEND,IN - SEPTEMBER 13:  Golden Tate #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish carries the ball during the game against the Michigan Wolverines on September 13, 2008 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With Casey Hampton signed and the Steelers trying to work something out with Ryan Clark, it seems very unlikely the Steelers will take a nose tackle in the first round of this year's draft.

What positions could they be looking to build upon? Could they be considering Golden Tate to be Hines Ward's future replacement? The No. 2 wide receiver in this year's draft is a 21-year-old college junior. Tate stands 5'11", weighs 195 lbs and won the Bliletnikoff Award.

An ex-running back who is projected to be a slot receiver in the NFL, he has a lot of raw ability but does not have blazing speed and needs to run routes better. He needs to be coached up some and would probably not be polished enough to play in many games this year, except in wide receiver screens or other easy to run routes.

On the other hand, being an ex-running back, he is very, very good at running after the catch in the open field and tough to bring down. Most of his receiving yards came after the catch—a Wes Welker-type player.

In his worst game last year, he only had three catches for 57 yards. That's a 19-yard per catch average. In his best game, he had nine receptions for 244 yards. That is a 27-yard per catch average. In nine out of his 12 games, he had 100 or more receiving yards.

So the questions are: Is he on the Steelers draft radar? Are the Steelers thinking he could be a possible pick in the first round? Do you think they will pass on him and see if he makes it past the Patriots at 22 and possibly falls into the second round?