Through the first 10 games of the season, Gates was having the best season ever by a tight end. If he had played the full 16 games, he would have recorded 80 catches for 1,251 yards and 16 TD's. Sadly, it was ended through injury, but Gates certainly made a statement to the rest of the league.
Gates is one of the best undrafted free agents ever, who entered the league with the Chargers in 2003 and had success immediately as a receiving tight end. Since then, he has been one of the best tight ends ever, recording 7,000 yards at an average of 13.2 yards per catch and 69 TD's.
Gates never went to the scouting combine, but if he had he would have been one of the most athletic tight ends ever to attend. Despite being 260 lbs and 6'4" tall, he is fast, agile and very fluid in his movements. He is a good route runner, has a very sticky pair of hands and is explosive after the catch. His physical talents have also been combined with a savvy understanding of coverages, which lets him find seams and holes in coverage on most plays.
When he entered the league, Gates was one of the worst blockers at his position. After seven seasons, he is now a passable downfield blocker, who uses his size to blanket the much smaller defensive backs. He still is overwhelmed as an in line blocker, but his receiving abilities more than make up for this.
It says a lot about the value of Gates to the Chargers offense that in the Chiefs upset victory in week one of the season, often three defenders were tasked with covering Gates in the red zone, using a complex jamming system to limit his effectiveness. No other player in the league is dealt with in the same way.
2010 stats: 782 yards, 50 receptions, 15.6 yards per catch, 10 TD's