Cameron Brate has improved every season since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2014. That culminated in an impressive 57 catches for 660 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games last season.
Brate was a consistently productive receiver for Jameis Winston, a safety blanket, more or less. And that performance led Pro Football Focus to name him the Bucs’ Secret Superstar of 2017.
Brate burst into the scene in 2016, more than doubling his snap count from the year before and dramatically eclipsing his receiving marks as well. He caught eight touchdowns from 78 targets and dropped just two of those targets for a drop rate of 3.4 percent of catchable balls, the fifth-best mark among TEs in the league.
I eh...am not sure why they focus on his drop rate. The fifth-best mark among tight ends is decent, I guess, but it’s not all that special? Could they not find a better statistic to highlight?
Calling Brate a “secret” superstar may be a bit much, too. I’m fairly sure he made a bit of a name for himself last year. Not a superstar name, of course, but he certainly isn’t secret anymore.
The question now will be how much playing time and how many targets Brate will see this season. He was the team’s only receiving tight end last year, and Jameis Winston didn’t really have many players to throw to beside Mike Evans, Brate and Adam Humphries.
That’s a little different this season. The Bucs signed DeSean Jackson, drafted Chris Godwin, should see more production out of their running backs as receiver, and they drafted O.J. Howard as a do-it-all tight end. All of those developments will eat into Brate’s targets, though perhaps not his snaps.
Brate should have a sizable role on offense this season, but it seems unlikely we’ll see him continue to improve his statistical production—barring injuries elsewhere among Winston’s targets.