Buccaneers draft 2017: Four players who benefit the most from the new class
Let’s face it, Brate is already carving out quite the niche for himself on this team. In 2016, Brate very quietly posted a great season. He emerged to catch 57 passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns. The eight touchdowns tied Brate for the league lead at tight end with Hunter Henry. 70.2% of his receptions were good for first downs, proving him to be ultra-reliable when the Bucs needed him most.
So how do you take a guy that’s good and make him even better? You give him a partner. Much like Evans, Brate was given an ultra-talented teammate when O.J. Howard fell to number 19 in the draft. Regarded as the top tight end in the class, Howard can get down the seam and cause trouble both down field and in the red zone. I understand that his statistics were a bit understated in college, but that has more to do with the offense he was in than him underperforming.
Imaging putting this guy on the field with Howard? Defenses won’t be able to lean on one or the other. Howard also has ability as a blocker. If the Bucs can hone that skill, he can take focus away from the other guys when he is staying on the line to block. Attention will be drawn his way, leaving room for Brate, even when Howard isn’t out in the pass pattern.
Thanks to Howard, look for Brate to have a real shot at the Pro Bowl in 2017.