Knox) and is a really gifted athlete in his own right. Runs well, possesses good straight-line speed and has the kind of wiggle to make a man miss and accelerate past defenders. Plus, he does a nice job using his hands to snatch the football. Possesses a strong set of hands and good body control in jump ball situations. Adjusts his body well, keeps his concentration and you can tell he's a former basketball player the way he attacks the football and he looks like a forward skiing to grab a rebound.
However, still has some work to do as a route runner. Is a fluid kid, but isn't real clean in and out of his breaks, even on vertical routes. Tends to round off his routes consistently and tries to simply outpace defenders when trying to separate. Struggles on sharply breaking routes as well, as he tends to gear down and collect himself before trying to work his way back toward the football. Struggles vs. press coverage as well, can be slowed off the line and doesn't do a great job using his lateral quickness or hands to fend off the press.
Impression: A gifted straight-line athlete who needs to continue to mature as a route runner. Possesses a good skill set and has come a long way in a short amount of time, but needs to work on his trade if he hopes to develop as a consistent route runner in the NFL. However, his overall athleticism will allow him to make a roster in year one and develop."
He stepped onto the field as a true freshman, garnering honorable mention All-Lone Star Conference South Division honors with a strong all-purpose game (12-285-1 receiving, 14-189-4 rushing, 14-402 on kickoff returns). Even though Gates missed two games with a leg injury in 2008, he was first-team All-LSC South with 31 catches for 716 yards and eight scores on the year. He repeated those all-conference honors with 49-702-5 receiving in 2009, before exploding with an All-American senior year (66-1,182-13).
Gates had a rough childhood, growing up in a bad neighborhood with his father serving 18 years in prison for murder. He's also a bit older than the typical prospect, turning 25 in June, and his dismissal from Tyler JC will be the subject of many questions from scouts. The success of Scott and Knox in the league, however, along with his exceptional speed and playmaking ability, make Gates an intriguing mid-to-late round prospect for NFL teams willing to take the gamble.
Strengths: Adequate receiver height, but long arms make him play larger than he is. Exceptional straight-line speed; small school corners have no hope staying with him. Presses corners playing off, always a threat to burn down the sideline. Uses sidestep, or his hands on occasion, to get off the line quickly for inside position. Also sidesteps defenders after the catch, will high-step through arm tackles outside. Extends to snatch high passes from the air. Can catch throws with hands when facing the quarterback. Tracks ball over either shoulder, even straight over his head. Wins jump balls, good concentration in the air when fighting off corners. Good sideline awareness, gets both feet in-bounds after the catch. Willing blocker on receiver screens, has length to keep cornerbacks out of the play.
Weaknesses: Raw receiver with little experience. Routes need to be tightened up, too rounded on outs. Very lanky frame. Did not face a strong jam or tougher cornerbacks downfield at the Division II level. Inconsistent hands, especially when feeling a hit coming over the middle. Will struggle to sustain blocks without more effort and strength. Turns 25 in June."
Positive: Blazing field stretcher at the receiver position with home run speed. Quickly gets off the line, immediately gets a top speed, and easily runs away from defenders in the open field. Shows great acceleration and can turn it on in a single step. Extends to make the reception away from his frame. Runs well laterally, effectively tracks the ball, and adjusts to make the catch. Makes big plays if given just a small amount of open space on the field. Tough to tackle running after the reception and shows strength. Consistently has opponents playing back on their heels.
Negative: Vertical receiver that was rarely asked to run precise routes in college. Rounds off breaks and shows little sharpness. Slowed down during position drills at the combine when he was asked to run a variety of NFL-type patterns.
Analysis: Gates is a tremendous athlete and one of the few game breakers available at the receiver position. He's also with solid pass catcher who must learn to do more than run in a straight line and catch the ball. Gates could produce in the NFL next season as a slot receiver and comes with a large upside."
Negatives: Drops some easy throws, can make the acrobatic catch one play and then drop the routine pass on the next down... Unpolished... Below-average route runner, rounds his cuts and looks downright sloppy at times... Played against division two competition at Abilene Christian... Originally wanted to play basketball, but was kicked off the Tyler Junior College basketball team in 2006 which brought him to Abilene to play football... Will be a 25 year old rookie, graduated high school in 2004."
2009: Earned first team all-Lone Star Conference honors. Led the receivers with 702 yards and fourth for ACU with 5 touchdowns, averaging 14.3 yards per catch. Ended the season with a season high 8 catches for 102 yards in a season-ending playoff loss to Northwest Missouri. Had 6 catches and a season high 126 yards in a home win against Eastern New Mexico and followed that with another 5 catch 112 yard performance at East Central. Had three games with 5 catches including a win over Texas A&M-Kingsville for 111 yards.
2008: Gates started and played in 10 games for the Wildcats, battling an early-season leg injury that sidelined for two games. As a first team all-LSC South Division selection in 2008, he finished the season with 31 catches for 716 yards and eight touchdowns, including a career-long 74-yard TD grab against Eastern New Mexico. He also carried the ball 11 times for 94 yards and one score (vs. West Texas A&M). He had a pair of 100-yard receiving games: five catches for 122 yards in Wildcats' 44-27 season-opening win at Northwest Missouri State (Aug. 30) and eight catches for 164 yards and two scores against Eastern New Mexico (Sept. 27). He had a pair of touchdown catches against East Central in a 66-7 win on Oct. 4 and two in a regular-season-ending win over Midwestern State (Nov. 8). In ACU's 93-68 win over West Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs on Nov. 22, Gates caught two passes for 87 yards, including a 65-yard TD.
2007: Played in 11 games for the Wildcats, finishing with 12 catches for 285 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball 14 times for 189 yards and four more scores. He had 14 kickoff returns for 402 yards with a long return of 86 yards. Gates had 876 all-purpose yards in 2007. Burst onto the scene as a viable threat in the Wildcats' 50-14 win at Southwestern Oklahoma State on Sept. 22 when he carried the ball three times for 30 yards (long of 21 yards) and caught one pass for 38 yards. Three games later at Angelo State, Gates had two carries for 45 yards and one TD (38-yard run) and caught one pass for a 56-yard touchdown. Two weeks later against Tarleton State he had a 73-yard TD run on a receiver end-around and caught a 66-yard pass from Bernard Scott on a halfback pass. He also had three kickoffs for 77 yards in the game with a long of 37 yards. His longest kickoff return of the season came against Chadron Stateas ACU lost 76-73 in triple-overtime. He had six kickoff returns in the game for 161 yards, including an 86-yarder. Named honorable mention all-LSC South Division.
Strengths: Fast, productive receiver with great hands. Able to accelerate and get to the edge. Versatile offensive player who can play in slot or outside. Very athletic (10'11 broad jump at combine). Flashes great hands - usually catches ball away from body. Willing to block. Showed toughness by competing at combine while battling groin injury.
Weaknesses: Routes are not polished reflecting his inexperience as a receiver. Very lanky frame suggesting injury potential. Inconsistent hands, especially when feeling a hit coming over the middle. Will struggle to sustain blocks without more effort and strength. Turns 25 in June. Did not run short shuttle or 3-cone at combine.
Projection: 3rd round. Some suggest as late as mid-second round."
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