Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Who has it better than Tampa Bay? When it comes to tight ends, almost nobody. Over the last few years the Buccaneers have fashioned their offense around using two tight ends to exploit mismatches and create explosive plays downfield. After uncovering Cam Brate as an undrafted steal in 2015 the Buccaneers further bolstered the tight end room by drafting O.J. Howard with the 19th overall pick in 2017.
Despite overall inconsistency on the offense last year which included quarterback Jameis Winston missing several games, both Buccaneer tight ends had solid seasons. Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard each scored six touchdowns apiece and stretched defenses on nearly every catch – Howard averaged 16.6 yards per reception while Brate averaged 12.3.
Neither Brate or Howard had more than 600 yards or 50 catches, but that says more about the strength of the Buccaneer receiving core. With a healthy quarterback and more scoring opportunities, it wouldn’t surprise me to see both Howard and Brate improve statistically across the board in 2018, even with all the competition for targets.
While Howard and Brate are both elite pass catchers at their position, they could each improve upon on their blocking. Neither guy graded out particularly well in that regard last year, and for Brate it may always be somewhat of a limitation. Howard stood out in college as a disciplined blocker and has the strength and build to hold his own, so he should be able to improve with experience.
Anthony Auclair gives the Buccaneers further depth at the position. The 25 year old undrafted free agent from Canada has been a developmental project for the Buccaneers and has yet to make a huge impact on the field, but he has solid hands and stands at 6’6 256 lbs. Look for Auclair’s snaps to increase a bit this year.