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How Luke Stocker Will Change The Bucs' Offense

Luke Stocker draws comparisons to one of the best tight ends in the league: Jason Witten. There are plenty of similarities: they both played at Tennessee, neither of them was a high draft pick and both of them are versatile tight ends who can both block and receive. But those comparisons are unfair to Stocker, as Stocker is neither the blocker nor the receiver Jason Witten is. Where the comparison does work is in their versatility. Stocker has the talent to be a solid run-blocker and a solid pass-catcher. While reviews on his blocking prowess vary from "good blocker" to "has the frame and physical skills to block but only flashes the ability", at least he'll be better at it than Kellen Winslow Jr. And while he may not have the skillset now, good and consistent coaching should improve his ability. He went through multiple scheme changes in his college career, so I can imagine he's a bit raw as a blocker because of it. 

And it's exactly that versatility that will help him get on the field early and often for the Buccaneers. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson loves to bring out 2-tight end sets, but the Bucs weren't very versatile in those situations last year depending on the personnel. Whenever Kellen Winslow is on the field, you basically know the Bucs are unlikely to run it because he's such a bad run-blocker, although he does give good effort. So the Bucs trotted out a lot of 2-tight end sets with John Gilmore and Jerramy Stevens and later John Gilmore and Ryan Purvis or Nathan Overbay when they wanted to run the ball. Adding Luke Stocker will allow the Buccaneers to have 2-tight end sets in which they can both run and pass the ball, which will pose additional problems for offenses who will have to decide how to match up their personnel, which the Buccaneers could exploit.

This will also allow Luke Stocker to be on the field a lot, and I wouldn't even be surprised to see him on the field more often than Kellen Winslow. To illustrate this, the Buccaneers went with two- or three-tight end sets on 257 of 994 plays last year by my count, or 25.5% of the time. Luke Stocker is likely to be on the field for the vast majority of those plays. The Buccaneers could also pass a little more easily out of those sets, as they ran it 55.6% of the time out of 2TE sets last year, versus only 34.5% of the time with other personnel groupings. If I broke that down by the times Kellen Winslow wasn't I'd bet you'd see almost exclusively runs, which should change this year. That kind of versatility will add a new dimension to the offense, allowing the Buccaneers to create favorable matchups more easily. Luke Stocker could have a big impact early on in his career.