Bucs coach Dirk Koetter could barely contain his excitement Thursday night after landing Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the No. 19 pick in the NFL Draft, continuing a long history he's had of tight ends flourishing in his offense.
"I'm the first to admit that I like tight ends," said Koetter, who saw Cameron Brate tie for the NFL lead among tight ends with eight touchdowns last season, matching the Bucs' franchise record for the most by a tight end.
Koetter's history with successful tight ends goes back a long way, and includes perhaps the greatest tight end in NFL history. You'd have to think Howard is among the most talented tight ends he's worked with, but it's a long list. Take a trip back ...
2015: In Koetter's first season with Tampa Bay, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins ties for the team lead with four touchdowns despite playing in only seven games. Brate, emerging as a threat stepping in when ASJ was injured, has another three touchdowns in limited action.
2012-13: Tony Gonzalez, the most productive tight end in NFL history and a surefire Hall of Famer, had two huge seasons working with Koeter in Atlanta at the end of his career -- 93 touchdowns for 930 yards and eight scores in 2012 as Atlanta got within one win of a Super Bowl, and 83 catches for 859 yards and eight scores in 2013.
2010: Another first-round pick, Marcedes Lewis, made the Pro Bowl in 2010 with the Jaguars when Koetter was offensive coordinator there -- he caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lewis played five seasons under Koetter and had at least 30 catches every year.
2006: When Koetter was at Arizona State, one of his top targets was TE Zach Miller, who led the Sun Devils in catches (50), yards (484) and touchdowns (4) in 2006, with another six touchdowns in 2004. He played eight years in the NFL with 328 career catches.
2002: Before Miller, Koetter got a big year out of Mike Pinkard -- a converted defensive lineman -- at Arizona State, with five touchdowns in 2002.
1999: At Boise State, Koetter had two tight ends who would go on to play in the NFL -- in '99, Jeb Putzier (later with Denver) had 592 yards and three touchdowns and Dave Stachelski had 453 yards and six touchdowns.
1994: While Koetter was offensive coordinator at Boston College, tight end Pete Mitchell led the Eagles in catches (55), yards (517) and touchdowns (7) in 1994 and would go on to play eight years in the NFL, catching 279 passes.
1991: When Koetter was at Missouri, he got big production from Byron Chamberlain (team-best 39 catches, 464 yards, 4 TDs), who would go on to play nine years in the NFL.