Final Grades for the Buccaneers 2016 Season
WIDE RECEIVERS and TIGHT ENDS: C
Mike Evans and Cameron Brate both get individual “A” marks for their performances in helping the Bucs reach nine wins this season. Let’s see how the rest did.
Outside of Evans’ 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns, the second leading wide receiver was easily Adam Humphries, who totaled 622 yards and two scores in his second year out of Clemson as an undrafted free-agent.
Calling Humphries a diamond in the rough would be an understatement as he stepped up for much of the year after Vincent Jackson exited early with an injury. Of course, he suffered his own injury on an uncalled knee to the back of his head, but really found his place on the team with his performance this season.
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Russell Shepard has been a captain for his special teams play, but this year he got in the action on offense with 23 catches and two touchdowns himself.
While the numbers aren’t all that gaudy, his catches were pretty memorable for the most part, and he really showed some of the versatility which has made him a mainstay on the Bucs roster for years now.
While he isn’t considered much of a vertical threat, Shepard had five plays which went for 20-yards or more and hauled in 19 catches for first down conversions, meaning 91% of his receptions either moved the chains of put points on the board. That’s how you make an impact.
As for tight ends, it didn’t get much better than Brate this year as he finished with 660 yards and eight touchdown catches.
Behind him was mostly blocking tight ends who will never get the credit they deserve, but we’re getting them some here.
Luke Stocker was a big-time contributor to both run blocking and pass protection throughout the season, and even chipped in with the occasional reception when the defense wasn’t paying attention.
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Alan Cross is another good undrafted story, and seeing him get his first career touchdown is hopefully the start of his developing into a good second tight end down the line.
There are more names to credit including Cecil Shorts, Freddie Martino and Brandon Myers. Each of whom stepped up during crucial moments of the season and helped the team reach the winning record they did.
Again, it didn’t always look pretty, but quarterbacks don’t get to 4,000 yards without guys making catches.
Consistency is what escaped this group, and consistency is what the Bucs will hope to provide their offense moving forward. It was nice to see so many little-known players or castaways from other teams step in from time-to-time, it’s just isn’t a way to build a true winner in the NFL.