Buccaneers Position Battles: Tight End
The tight end position is an important position in the NFL, and sometimes one of the most underrated positions on the offensive side of the ball. The tight end position can be used in so many ways, including pass catching, pass blocking, run blocking, and being a safety blanket for the teams quarterback. The Buccaneers have many talented tight ends on their roster. Question is, which tight ends will crack the Bucs 53 man active roster?
Timothy Wright- Second year tight end out of Rutgers University was one of the bright spots from a poor 2013-2014 season. Former Buccaneers head coach and Rutgers head coach Greh Schiano recruited and coached Wright at Rutgers, and signed Wright as a college free agent on April 29th, 2013. Wright was a surprise to crack the Buccaneers active roster, but surprised many fans with his production on the field. Wright made 54 receptions for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns in 16 games with the Buccaneers last season, and he quickly became fellow rookie quarterback Mike Glennons favorite target, especially on third down. Wright still has many flaws he has to work out, however. Although he is a solid 6’4, Wright is only 220 pounds, and tends to get blown off the ball when asked to block, and cannot get off the press. Wright will continue to be a great weapon during passing situations in the upcoming season, but the Bucs have brought in other tight ends that can both block and catch the football.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Speaking of a large tight end that can catch and block, 6’5 262lb rookie second round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins uses his size and basketball background to tear up apposing defenses. Seferian-Jenkins has really impressive foot speed and agility for a man his size, and has the potential to be a strong in-line blocked and number 1 tight end. Jenkins has large hands and 34″ arms that allow him to extend and catch passes. Unlike Tim Wright, however, ASJ is not very elusive after he makes the catch, and does not have the strongest release. Overall, ASJ can develop into an all around tight end so long as he continues to improve as a blocker, and stays healthy. Look for number 87 to contribute early and become a safety blanket for his quarterback.
Brandon Myers: 6 year NFL veteran Brandon Myers was brought in by Tampa Bay from the New York Giants during free agency in 2014. Myers, ever since his days of playing his college football at the University of Iowa, has been known for his his excellent blocking ability for both the run and the pass. Always known for his grit and flair on the football field, Myers plays with an edge to his game and takes pride in his run blocking. Myers also has the ability to contribute in the passing game, as the 6’4 tight end has 158 career receptions and 10 career touchdowns during his 6 year career. Look for Myers in short yardage situations, as his ability to both block and catch could be real useful to keep drives going.
Luke Stocker: A fourth round pick out of Tennessee, and standing at a massive 6’6, 253 lb Luke Stocker has had all the opportunities to show that he can play and be productive in the NFL. Thought to have incredible upside, Stocker has just not been able to stay healthy, and prove that he’s worth keeping around. Stocker only played in 2 games last season due to injuries, and last season was his shot to take over the number one spot on the depth chart at tight end. Unfortunately for Stocker, he was hurt during training camp and could not show off his abilities. Now, Stocker is in a dogfight with 3 other talented tight ends to make the Bucs roster. Stocker must stay healthy throughout training camp and through the pre season in order to make the most of his opportunities. Time is running out, Luke, time to prove the previous regime right for keeping you around.
The Buccaneers tight end battle will be an interesting one to watch throughout training camp. With veteran quarterback Josh McCown likely to take over under center, and known to make big tight ends, such as Martellus Bennett in Chicago a big part of the offense.