Buried in the press release announcing Kellen Winslow's departure from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, general manager Mark Dominik made a telling public statement. He called last year's fourth-round pick, Luke Stocker, "an every-down tight end."
Dallas Clark isn't going to be the guy who replaces Winslow long-term. The move to trade Winslow to the Seattle Seahawks was as much about Stocker as it was Winslow's supposedly foul offseason attitude.
"I understand I was drafted by this team, and they want me to become the tight end of the future here," Stocker told PewterReport.com. "I hold myself to a high standard in that regard and I want to get to where they want me at. That's what I'm working for every day."
Stocker had just 12 catches last season, but he's known more as a perimeter blocker at this stage of his career. That will keep him on the field plenty in Tampa Bay's run-first offense. Stocker fractured his hip during training camp last year, causing him to miss valuable practice time in the lockout-shortened offseason.
The Bucs' offsense will be wildly different next season. They want to control the ball with Doug Martin, bruise you with LaGarrette Blount and hit you deep with Vincent Jackson. Don't overlook Stocker, however, as one of the key ingredients to the offense's success.