Ko Kieft can be Buccaneers answer for their blocking tight end need
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end situation goes beyond receiving production with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. Tight ends are also asked to block, which is something that Gronkowski also excelled at. However, one Buccaneers rookie can help with this.
There are many people out there who think that Gronk is the greatest tight end to ever play thanks to his out-of-this-world receiving skills, run-after-the-catch ability, and the fact that he was a solid blocker to boot. It’s easy to forget with the explosion of the passing game in today’s NFL, but blocking is still a big part of a tight end’s game.
With Gronk now retired (for real this time, we think) Cameron Brate is the penciled-in starter as of this writing. While this writer is perhaps admittedly a bigger fan than most when it comes to Brate thanks to his durability and availability coupled with his underrated ability as a receiver, it’s no secret that his blocking has left much to be desired.
Brate is currently ahead of two rookies. The Buccaneers’ fourth-round pick Cade Otton out of the University of Washington, a school that’s become a factory of sorts for the Bucs in recent years, is getting the most pub due to his Gronk-like run-after-catch skills and being a natural receiver. He is also a pretty good blocker in his own right. That’s not to say he’s going to be Rob Gronkowski 2.0, we have no idea what he will be, but the similarities appear to be there with Otton.
However, Otton may not be the natural blocker the Buccaneers need. There’s another rookie.
In the brouhaha that followed the Gronk announcement surrounding Brate and Otton, Ko Kieft appears to be the forgotten man. Perhaps it’s because he was drafted in the sixth round, but Bucs fans may have a new folk hero on their hands.
Kieft is an absolute bowling ball of a tight end. He stands at 6’5″ and tips the scales at 265 pounds. Just look at the picture above. What an absolutely beautiful specimen of throwback football. Kieft’s biggest strength is his blocking. He’s been called a blocking specialist leading up to the draft, so it’s easy to see why the Buccaneers made him the second tight end they drafted. As it stands, it looks like Kieft can fill out the “Luke Stocker role” while Otton and Brate handle the majority of the receiving work, but that’s not to say Kieft isn’t a capable receiver when called upon either.
This may not be the “ideal” tight end situation, but at the end of the day, there’s still ol’ reliable in Brate to lean on, and nobody has a clue as we sit here at the end of June what the rookies will be. The point is though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have found exactly what they were looking for in Ko Kieft, filling a need for a natural blocking tight end, potentially making him one of the unsung heroes playing an unsung hero’s role. Perhaps they won’t need to go out and spend any more money after all.