Having your name mentioned in the same sentence as Kellen Winslow Jr. might seem at first like cause for concern. In the case of Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate it’s actually a good thing.
With 16 catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns, Brate is off to a great start this season. In fact, it’s the best start for a Bucs tight end since Winslow started just a tad faster six seasons ago in 2010.
Winslow broke out of the blocks that year by catching a total of 17 passes for 214 yards. Included in that start were four games in which Winslow caught at least three passes in every game.
Brate, who had three catches in each of his first two games and has had five in each of his last two, has matched that streak. Even better, he’s now on pace to catch 64 passes for 636 yards and eight touchdowns.
That would make Brate the first Bucs tight end ever to become a part of the 60-catch, 600-yard, six-touchdown club. Not bad for a third-year undrafted pro out of Harvard.
We point that out because Brate is the only undrafted player out of a group of seven tight ends who have started the 2016 season by catching at least three passes in every game.
The others are Eric Ebron (Lions), Travis Kelce (Chiefs), Zach Miller (Bears), Greg Olsen (Panthers), Dennis Pitta (Ravens) and Jordan Reed (Redskins).
Brate has proven to be quite a find for the Buccaneers, who first signed him as a practice squad player back in 2014. Now he’s their starter and one of the big reasons the Bucs felt comfortable letting go of former second-round draft pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Let’s face the facts here folks, if Brate doesn’t emerge the way he has over the last year – he’s now caught at least three passes in seven of his last 11 games and five in three of those seven – the Bucs probably don’t let Seferian-Jenkins go.
Some may still argue that was a mistake, and it may well prove to be. But the Bucs still appear to have one of the game’s best young tight ends and unlike Winslow Jr. and ASJ, the only team Brate is going to leave with a headache is his opponent.