Here we go again – JoeBucsFan.com

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BY IRA KAUFMAN

The Bucs have an interesting history when it comes to drafting tight ends.

They stink of it.

Since their inaugural draft in 1976, Tampa Bay has selected 23 tight ends. The only one to make a Pro Bowl? Try Dave Moore, who earned a spot on the 2006 Pro Bowl team – as a long snapper.

Moore is now the Bucs’ insightful radio analyst, working alongside Gene Deckerhoff.

Well, here we go again. It’s time for the Bucs to give some serious thought to using a premium pick on a tight end.

Free agent Rob Gronkowski turns 33 in May and there’s a good chance he’ll join retired Tom Brady. Cameron Brate turns 31 in July and has averaged just 17 receiving yards per game over the past four years. In 2021, Brate only caught 53% of the passes sent to him.

Free agent OJ Howard, the apple of Dirk Koetter’s eye in 2017, has given the Bucs little reason to make him a serious offer to return this fall.

Sage Ira Kaufman delves into the Bucs’ strange history with tight ends.

Before Howard was Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round pick who is now out of the league at age 29 after a string of DUI arrests.

A day 2 decision?

Yes, when it comes to the 2022 draft, tight end position should be a top priority.

That’s not to say Tampa Bay would be wise to use a first-round pick on the position, because it’s not been a particularly good year for tight prospects. Chances are no tight ends will be selected in the first round for the second time in three years.

But if you’re looking for the next Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews, Colorado State’s Trey McBride could be available in the second round. He caught 90 passes for 1,125 yards last season and won the John Mackey Award. In the last snap of his college career, McBride rushed 69 yards for a touchdown against Nevada on a fake punt.

Other possibilities include Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermeyer and Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar, who dropped just two passes while catching 63 receptions.

The best tight ends in Buc history were acquired in trades.

Ring of Honor recipient Jimmie Giles was obtained from Houston in a 1978 deal that saw the Bucs deal with the No. 1 overall pick, who turned out to be Earl Campbell. Giles did his part, earning four Pro Bowl berths with the Bucs while quickly developing a dynamic relationship with Doug Williams.

Tampa Bay sent a fourth-round pick to New England for Gronkowski a month after signing Brady as a free agent in the spring of 2020. In Tampa, Brady and Gronkowski continued their magical connection, but the trigger for that partnership was now focuses on the family and its many business interests.

Better decisions

Although the Bucs can’t get it right when drafting tight ends or quarterbacks, the franchise has had substantial success in other positions.

20212 first-round pick Doug Martin

At running back, Tampa Bay selected Ricky Bell, James Wilder, Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Cadillac Williams and Doug Martin. The Bucs’ list of quality linebackers begins with Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, but it doesn’t end there. David Lewis, Hugh Green, Lavonte David and Devin White have also served as playmakers.

Hall of Fame safety John Lynch leads the defensive field, but leaves room for Rondé Barber, Brian Kelly, Aqib Talib, Carlton Davis, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead.

Even in the unlikely event that Gronkowski re-signs with the Bucs, this team needs a young tight end to grow. Howard was supposed to be that guy. He was picked 19th overall in 2017, 11 picks before the Steelers retired an outside linebacker from Wisconsin.

Since entering the league, TJ Watt has averaged 14 sacks per season.

Howard averaged 290 yards and three touchdowns.

Jason Licht has a lot to do over the next month, forging a smart plan for free agency. He has five starters on each side of the ball with the potential to test the market and only one franchise tag to enforce.

Tampa Bay scouts are refining their ratings on the top draft prospects. Pay particular attention to reports stamped “Tight End”.

They are guardians.


Ira talks about this year’s Hall of Fame vote in a new TAMPA TWO with Derrick Brooks. Another excellent production from The Identity Tampa Bay and Joe.