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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

What do Bucs have in mind for their tight ends?

We would rarely suggest that the selection of a seventh-round draft choice speaks to an organization-wide philosophy, but the Bucs' selection of Northwestern tight end Drake Dunsmore on Saturday is noteworthy in this respect.

Coaches on Tampa Bay's staff last season publicly and privately lamented the team's lack of a true blocking tight end, a need that was so severe that offensive tackle Demar Dotson was frequently used as a tight end in two-tight end formations.

Yet, despite the obvious void, the Bucs opted to draft Dunsmore, a tight end who admittedly is not an accomplished blocker. That's not a knock. But it might be a hint that the Bucs aren't prioritizing that type of tight end any longer.

General manager Mark Dominik's quote after the selection only reinforced that the Bucs weren't looking for an in-line blocker.

"(Dunsmore) catches the ball well, runs really excellent routes," Dominik said. "He's a guy we really think can help us at that position. We wanted to get a pass-catching tight end because of how the league's evolved and how important that position is."

It's not hard to figure out what Dominik is talking about. Who hasn't watched the Patriots' twin tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez -- with envy?

Kellen Winslow will probably still catch his share of balls for the Bucs, but maybe the Tampa Bay envisions using more two-tight sets with true tight ends. Luke Stocker, though still unproven entering his second season, would also be a part of this equation. Now, Dunsmore joins the mix.

We won't know for a while just what the Bucs really have in mind, but this is just another element to watch as the offseason plays out and the Bucs continue putting together their new offense.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 2:17pm]


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