The offseason hype for Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries is growing ever stronger. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to rely on the tight end and receiver last year, because of injuries elsewhere. They did nicely, combining for just under 550 receiving yards and some reliable catches, especially in the red zone. That’s certainly valuable, and it’s deserving some offseason excitement.
What’s weird, here, is that somehow there’s more hype around Humphries and Brate, than there is around the much more talented and productive Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The latter two are both healthy, will have a full season with their quarterback for the first time in their careers, and have been much more productive than Humphries and Brate. Evans has had two 1,000+ yard seasons and is just 23 years old, while Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a year older and has been productive when healthy — he just hasn’t been healthy a lot.
One reason for that hype, is that Humphries and Brate have had fewer high-profile drops. Another is that they’re less visible on the field: for some reason, a portion of the Bucs fanbase really doesn’t like visibly excited players with some flaws. That Evans asks for flags and Seferian-Jenkins has silly celebrations doesn’t actually matter for their play on the field, nor does it make them worse players, but it makes them less sympathetic to some.
We should never mistake sympathy for actual quality, though. Brate and Humphries may be sympathetic, but they’re also very limited. Neither is a particularly good athlete. Humphries is too small to ever win on the outside, while Brate is an absolutely terrible blocker and doesn’t have the speed to be a threat down the field. They’re both good for the exact same thing: reliably running short routes on quick throws. There’s a role for players like that in any offense, and I certainly won’t argue they’re not useful, but they combined for 548 receiving yards. Mike Evans put up more than that in half a season, twice. And had Austin Seferian-Jenkins stayed healthy, he would likely have easily surpassed those numbers in each of his two seasons as well.
If you want to be happy for some backups with defined but limited roles, go for it. But don’t expect Brate and Humphries to be more than that. You’ll come away very disappointed.