Luke Stocker quietly got his chance to start a majority of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ games in his second year after going to the franchise as a fourth-rounder in 2011, and really has a chance to make a leap in year two if Josh Freeman and the Bucs’ passing game can steady their erratic ways. Despite starting those 12 games, Stocker only logged 16 catches on 22 targets during a season-total 550 snaps, which combined with all the elements of his game left him ranked 21st among tight ends in 2012 by Pro Football Focus grading.
Tom Crabtree and Zach Miller — no, not the heroic Zach Miller from last year’s playoffs — stand directly behind Stocker on Ourlads.com’s Tampa depth chart, so the competition is hardly stiff for Stocker’s starting role. However, a man with 28-career receptions with ways to go in the blocking game would still massively benefit from a great run in Bucs training camp.
As ESPN NFC South blogger Pat Yasinkas wrote on Tampa minicamp a couple weeks ago, the team would probably like Crabtree to at least push Stocker for the job and that’s very real possibility: “Luke Stocker appeared to get most of the first-team work at tight end Wednesday. But I think the Bucs are hoping free-agent pickup Tom Crabtree can blossom. Crabtree didn’t get a lot of opportunities in his Green Bay days, but he appears to have some skills as a pass catcher.”
The 6-5, 258-pounder is a behemoth of a tight end who remarkably recorded a 4.64-second 40-yard dash pre-draft back in 2011, and remains an intriguing tight end option in Tampa.