We're going position by position to see whether the Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved their roster compared to last year. Today: tight ends.
2015 roster: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker, Cameron Brate, Brandon Myers, Tevin Westbrook, Jorvorskie Lane (fullback)
2016 roster: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker, Cameron Brate, Tevin Westbrook, Brandon Myers, Alan Cross, Kivon Cartwright, Danny Vitale (fullback)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have basically the same players at tight end, plus a few extra undrafted free agent with some potential -- and new fullback. Sixth-round pick Danny Vitale replaces the injured Jorvorskie Lane, and is probably a better fit in Dirk Koetter's offense. He was a hybrid tight end/fullback/H-back in college, which is basically the role he'll get this year.
The big question will be whether Seferian-Jenkins can take the next step. He's spent most of the past two years being injured, but he's massively talented as a 2014 second-round pick. He's the only tight end on the roster with the talent to become an explosive receiver, but that has yet to consistently come out. The coaching staff has spent most of the season hyping him up, but Dirk Koetter booted him out of practice this week for not knowing where to line up -- not exactly a promising move.
Beyond Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs have some talent on the roster. Cameron Brate had a solid season last year a mostly an underneath tight end, but he doesn't have the frame to hold up as a blocker nor the explosiveness to be much more than he was last year. Tevin Westbrook has the potential to turn into an explosive receiver, but he has a long way to go as a practice squad player and former undrafted free agent.
So are the Bucs better than last year? I'd say so, and they certainly are in potential, but whether that'll come out remains to be seen.