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Will Golden Tate finally have his breakout season?


By Brady Henderson

All the talk about Golden Tate’s potential for a breakout in 2012 after two disappointing seasons has mostly taken a back seat this week after the Seahawks receiver’s huge block on Sunday against Dallas and the fine he subsequently received for it.

Coach Pete Carroll talked about both when he joined “Brock and Salk” on Monday. He stated a desire to get Tate more catches – he had three for 38 yards on Sunday – and noted his toughness, improved quickness and the changes he’s made in his demeanor from his first two seasons.

The Seahawks hope third-year receiver Golden Tate finally reaches the potential that made him a second-round pick. (AP)

Tate had 227 receiving yards as a rookie then 382 last season, which qualifies as underperformance based on his status as a second-round pick. But Carroll said Tate wouldn’t be the first receiver to break out in his third season.

“If you look at the receivers that it’s taken … until their third year before they blossom you’d be shocked at what that list of players looks like because they’re great players,” Carroll said.

I went through each draft from 2000-’09, looking for highly drafted receivers who saw significant spikes in their receiving yardage in Year 3. A few – but not many – of the names that fit that criteria did jump out, as Carroll suggested.

Among receivers drafted within the first two rounds in that span, eight topped 1,000 yards for the first time in their third season: Santana Moss, Ashley Lelie, Javon Walker, Roy Williams, Lee Evans, Braylon Edwards, Roddy White and Greg Jennings (the only second-round pick in that group).

All but Moss and White, however, saw their totals increase gradually before topping the 1,000-yard mark. Moss had 40 and 433 receiving yards in his first two seasons then 1,105 in his third. He’s had three 1,000-yard seasons and one Pro Bowl appearance since. White had 446- and 506-yard seasons before going for 1,202 in Year 3. He’s topped 1,000 yards and made the Pro Bowl in every season since.

Darrius Heyward-Bey was another receiver that stood out. After totaling just 490 yards in his first two seasons – an utter disappointment considering he was a first-round pick in 2009 – Heyward-Bey broke out for 975 yards in 2011.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Tate will do the same. He’s at best the second receiving option on a run-first team that’s starting a rookie quarterback, so topping 1,000 yards this season seems like a longshot.

But the aforementioned names, if nothing else, show that at least some highly drafted receivers have done what Tate is trying to do: erase the bad taste of a disappointing start with a breakout season in Year 3.