Instant Debate: Breakout stars
"He's going to be the best tight end in the NFL this year," Weddle said, via ESPN.com's Bill Williamson. "The best. You can't guard him … I know there are a lot good tight ends coming up in the league, but Antonio is the best. He looks that good. He hasn't looked this good since my rookie season."
From 2004 to 2007, Gates was a force, averaging 79 catches for 983 yards and 10 touchdowns per season. Those numbers might not seem dominant compared to the 2011 production of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, but we're talking about a different era. Adjusted for inflation, Gates' stats were just as impressive as what the G&G boys pulled off with their Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
When he played basketball with Gates in the offseason, Weddle saw the tight end's speed and mobility as a hint of good things to come.
"Just the moves that he made playing basketball were things I didn't see him be able to do because of the injuries," Weddle said. "He is now moving that way on the football field. He's going to be great."
Gates is just 32, so a comeback season is well within reason. He was still an effective player when he could barely move. If he can stay healthy, look out.