The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have much to be happy about this year, but one of the positive results has been the emergence of a ridiculously strong group of tight ends.
Cameron Brate took another step forward this season, and is one of the best mid-range receiving tight ends in the NFL right now. And O.J. Howard has been very promising as a first-round pick, productive as both a blocker and a receiver, providing the versatility every team craves.
There’s also a third promising tight end hanging around the roster. Koetter highlighted Antony Auclair today, the undrafted free agent who played his college in Canada and somehow made it to the NFL.
“Yeah with O.J. [Howard] down, definitely [he will have a larger role]. Antony is a good story. He is an excellent story. From the first time we saw him on Canadian tape and then when we saw him over at the East-West Shrine game and saw him at practice over there – then after we drafted O.J. we were thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we are never going to get this guy to come as a free agent.’ We had a draft grade on him, so [he] is a huge bonus. We love our tight ends and we love tight ends who can do multiple things. For a guy that has made the transition from going from how they play in Canada to how they play here, he is a good student, works at it, tries [and] plays physical. He had a couple nice plays last week where he finished right to the whistle. You can usually tell a guy that finishes by if the other team is taking a swipe at him after the play. That usually means he is a good finisher. We are real happy with Antony.”
Auclair’s mostly been a blocker this season, catching only two passes for 25 yards so far, but he’s doing well in that role. And unlike Luke Stocker before him, he does have the athleticism to do some damage in the passing game, if he continues to develop.
Jameis Winston can’t complain about weapons going forward, and this is a group the Bucs could build a very productive offense around, especially with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and DeSean Jackson at wide receiver. Now to fix the rest of the team...