TAMPA, FL - JULY 29: Tight end Luke Stocker #83 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stretches for a pass during the team's first pre-season training camp practice July 29, 2011 at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
As we continue with the training camp previews, we come to the tight ends.
There's a lot of competition at this position, but not a lot of quality. The most experienced and arguably best player is Dallas Clark, but he hasn't been a productive pass-catching tight end for two years now and is limited as a run-blocker. He is useful as a pass-blocker, at least, but the Bucs shouldn't expect much of him. The other big name on the team is Luke Stocker, last year's fourth-round pick. Unfortunately, Stocker suffered from injuries for much of his rookie season and didn't look any different from Zach Pianalto or Collin Franklin when he did get on the field. The team is hoping he can improve with a full offseason and with good health, but that's another player you shouldn't expect much from.
Behind Clark and Stocker are a bunch of inexperienced players competing for roster spots. Franklin and Pianalto are both adequate blockers who offer little as receiving threats, while Dunsmore and Coffman are the opposite: both are mostly receiving tight ends and limited as blockers. Danny Noble rounds out the group, but he's likely just a camp body. I would expect Clark and Stocker to have their roster spots locked up given the lack of quality competition, and the other five players will get to fight for the remaining spots. Looking at the roster make-up, I would expect one blocker and one receiving tight end to come from that group. Who that will be, no one knows - and your guess is as good as mine.
Likely regular season roster: Dallas Clark, Luke Stocker, Zach Pianalto, Drake Dunsmore.