Many Buccaneers fans have been upset with the idea of drafting O.J. Howard, but there is a need at tight end that must be addressed.
Cameron Brate had a breakout season for the Buccaneers in 2016, there’s no denying that. Despite Brate leading the NFL in touchdowns by a tight end, there is still a glaring need at the position that Jason Licht will have to fill one way or another.
The Bucs currently do not have a complete tight end on the roster. Brate is terrific in the pass game but he causes the offense to be one dimensional due to his lack of ability at run blocking. Luke Stocker is arguably the best blocker on the team but provides zero help in the passing game. The Bucs are faced with the challenge of finding a complete tight end which is why Howard shows up in so many of these mock drafts.
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Running a two tight end set with a player who can block the way Howard does can open up the offense in a big way. Defenses will have to remain honest regarding Howard because he is a true dual threat. With Brate on the field, it’s almost certainly a pass play. With both? Well, that’s where they can have some fun.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be Howard, though. There are free agent tight ends on the market that are capable of both. Cardinals’ tight end Jermaine Gresham is certainly capable of both catching and blocking as he proved in his time with Cincinnati as well as Arizona. Is he the most polished blocker? No, but he’s a far site better than Brate.
Saying the Bucs don’t need a tight end just because of Brate’s breakout year is overlooking a true weakness on the team. And even if they do bring in a complete tight end that doesn’t mean Brate’s targets or playing time will diminish. He’s still one of Winston’s favorite targets and will remain so going forward.
Adding depth as well as improving a weakness in the offense is absolutely not a bad thing.