When you think of the Bucs offense and the draft, tight end probably isn’t the thing that first comes to mind.
However, Tampa Bay might have the best group of tight ends in the NFL. Despite early criticism of Bruce Arians not utilizing his tight ends well enough in 2019, they have become a critical part of what makes this offense run.
The Buccaneers listed both O.J. Howard and Rob Gronkowski as starters on their depth chart to start last season. This is a reflection of their importance, both as pass catchers and as blockers. Both were utilized often and sometimes both on the field together when Howard was healthy early in the year.
It is worth noting that none of the tight ends on this team are under contract passed next season. At this point it is not a sure thing that both or weather is back in Tampa beyond 2021. It would be wise for the Bucs to look at potential replacements or for a back up depending on who returns.
Here are some names to watch as good fits for the Bucs.
1. TE Brevin Jordan, Miami
Projected Selection: Rounds 2-3
Jordan might be smaller than many tight ends in this class at 6’3 and 245 lbs, but he plays with an edge. He is one of the better blockers at this position and he does some of his best work on the line of scrimmage. This is a skill set that the Bucs put a lot of value in.
With that said, don’t sleep on Jordan as a pass catcher either. He has experience playing the slot and is a good route runner overall. While not an elite athlete, he is a good athlete and shows the quickness to get separation at the NFL level.
He’s not exactly like Cameron Brate, Howard or Gronkowski, but he could be a good replacement for any -or all- of them in the future.
Per our own Joshua Cole Allen, Jordan has spoken with the Bucs during the draft process. If you’re looking for the Bucs to draft a tight end early, Jordan is a great option.
2. TE Nick Eubanks, Michigan Wolverines
Projected Selection: Rounds 4-6
A beautiful blend of athleticism and skill, Eubanks looks like an ideal developmental option for the Bucs. He’s shown flashes of blocking ability and can play in line as well as wing or slot. There is very little that he can’t do well. At this point it is a matter of refining and becoming more consistent.
Eubanks shows the speed where he can be a playmaker in the passing attack. He also has great size at 6’5 and 260 lbs. This blend of size and speed is not common, particularly in this draft class. Given a developmental year then he could be a legitimate starting option in 2022.
3. TE Tony Poljan, Virginia/Central Michigan
Projected Selection: Rounds 6-7
If you’re looking for a high upside project then Poljan is the tight end for you. He originally played quarterback at Central Michigan University before switching to tight end in 2019. Including his one year at Virginia, Poljan has played 22 games at his NFL position.
In that time he has shown quickness and a desire to finish blocks. It seems he has the right tools and mindset to be successful, but will need time and coaching to become a reliable player.
4. TE Luke Farrell, Ohio State
Projected Selection: Rounds 6-7
Farrell has a particular skill set that will certainly interest the Bucs. That would be his ability to block. Farrell does a good job controlling opponents, even defensive linemen.
In terms of pass catching, Farrell leaves a lot to be desired. He isn’t very athletic and doesn’t get separation. His hands are reliable, but his job will be blocking more than anything.