Ben Tate was taken in the second round (58th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft and was Gary Kubiak's hand-picked running back in that class. The Texans were looking for a running back after Steve Slaton's disappointing sophomore (2009) campaign that was marred with fumbles and injuries, and the offense even turned to the likes of a rookie by the name of Arian Foster, Ryan Moats and (gulp!) Chris Brown.
The Texans addressed one of their draft needs the following year, by taking Tate from Auburn University, but it was all for not. Tate was injured in the 2010 preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals when he broke his ankle. The Texans traded up to get Tate, making him the highest drafted running back in team history. This year you can say is truly his rookie year and is showing the organization what they were looking for when they drafted him. He is a north and south runner that can make people miss and is great fit for the Texans zone running scheme. Considered one of the top running backs in the 2010 draft, Tate has come back from a terrible injury to give the Texans a potential star running back in the making.
This was his draft analysis out of Auburn from NFL.com
Tate is a hard-nosed runner that does not spend much time dancing around in the backfield. He likes to stick his foot in the ground and hit the hole at the first sign of a running lane opening up. He is a downhill runner that will veer off course as he gets through the hole but is not going to make a lot of people miss once he gets through the hole unless he can just outrun them. He had been considered a bit of an underachiever in the past but came through with a big senior season to raise his status going into this draft.
With him and Arian Foster in the backfield the Texans could possibly have the best combination of running backs in the NFL when they are healthy. In Tate's first two games of his career he has 47 carries for 219 yards and one touchdown and 4 receptions for 32 yards. He rushed for two consecutive 100 yard games to start his NFL career making him only the 11th player in NFL history to accomplish this feat, and joins some of the NFL's best running-backs in that list, Edgerrin James (1999), Marshall Faulk (1994), Billy Sims (1980), Ottis Anderson (1979) and Earl Campbell (1978).
Tate has proved to be a solid piece of the Texans offense after, which seemed, an up and down training camp. He came into camp impressing the coaching staff, then a hamstring injury in the second week of camp put him on the sideline until the second preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. It looked like Tate was in Kubiak's dog house with some of the comments said, but it was all lip service motivating Tate to get back on the field. Since he has gotten back on the field he has not disappointed, and he looks like he is in a position to take away some carries from Arian Foster.
In this day of the NFL, it is a necessity to have two quality running backs to share the carries, especially because of the beating NFL running backs take. It's about winning and having both Tate and Foster in the Texans rotation give the team a much better chance for wins and a fresh runner when needed. There is no need to even think or talk about trading Foster because of Tate or vice versa, the fact of the matter is that Texans are a better team with both of them on the roster and especially carrying the ball.
Tate fills a need that many NFL teams wish they had, a starting running back in a backup role. It's times like these that show that the Texans front office knew what they were looking for when they drafted him, it just took a year longer to see because of the injury. The emergence of Ben Tate has been a big piece of why the Texans are 2-0 in the early part of the 2011 season. He is a better back than Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton and there is no discussion to could prove it otherwise. Tate is going to play a vital part of what the Texans are going to do this year and years to come, and this season is not a bad start for the highest drafted running back in Texans history.