The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished last in the NFC South last season with a 7-9 record. The team will have to improve in several areas on offense if they want to make some noise in the division this year. One area in particular that will need to see some solid production is the tight end position.
Three of the top six tight ends in the NFL last season came from the NFC South and none of them were on the Buccaneers. With Tampa Bay unlikely to re-sign Dallas Clark, they will have to rely on third-year player Luke Stocker and former Green Bay Packers tight end Tom Crabtree to carry the production.
Stocker has caught 28 receptions for 257 yards and one touchdown in two seasons. The Buccaneers are hoping he will be able to take his game to the next level in 2013, which is something many NFL experts believe is certainly possible. In fact, many are looking for Stocker to have a breakout year if he wins the starting job in camp.
Meanwhile, Crabtree will bring plenty to Tampa Bay’s locker room. The 27-year-old has plenty of experience to excel at a high level. He has hauled in 18 receptions for 302 yards and four touchdowns in his three-year career. Most of that production occurred last year when he caught eight receptions for 203 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games. More importantly, Crabtree has had the privilege of catching passes from the best quarterback in the league, which should serve him well over the next couple years.
Of course, it will all begin with what quarterback Josh Freeman will bring to the table. However, if the tight ends and wide receiver Vincent Jackson can step their game up, then Tampa Bay could be a team to cause some problems for the other teams within the division.