Greg Schiano on tight ends, hoops

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
12:14
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He didn’t win a lot of games, but former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris easily was the best quote among the four NFC South coaches.

In the media business, it’s always helpful when a guy is a good quote. New Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano probably never will be as animated or open as Morris. But, early on, I’m sensing a lot of depth out of Schiano and that can be a good thing.

Schiano
Take the case of Schiano being asked at the owners meetings last week why there aren’t a lot of great tight ends in college football and why the NFL seems to turn to former basketball players (see Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates) to play tight end. Schiano provided some pretty strong insight into why so many potential tight ends opt to play basketball in their teen years.

“It’s AAU basketball,’’ Schiano said. “Guys who are 6-2 as ninth-graders and have an opportunity to go to Las Vegas on a weekend trip, an opportunity to go to California or Florida in a basketball tournament, get a nice pair of shoes, a sweatsuit, and then they stop growing and there’s not a lot of 6-foot-3 power forwards. That’s the kind of athletes you need to play tight end. That was the hardest position to recruit in college. You had to project. Quite frankly, it’s the hardest position in this league to find. With the special guys, you can work mismatches.’’

In Tampa Bay, Schiano has Kellen Winslow as his top tight end. Winslow comes from a unique background. He’s the son of former NFL great Kellen Winslow Sr. and was schooled in football from an early age. At 6-4, Winslow has good size and his athleticism, at times, appears to match that of any of the former basketball players. There’s been some speculation the Bucs could look to trade Winslow, who will turn 29 in July, has chronic knee problems and is coming off a relatively quiet 2011 season. Some of the speculation also has pointed to the fact that new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is coming from the New York Giants, who didn’t throw to their tight ends a lot last season.

But I’m not so sure Winslow is on the trading block. Butch Davis, a special assistant to Schiano, recruited Winslow when he was head coach at the University of Miami. Davis also drafted Winslow when he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Schiano and Davis have access to all the medical reports on Winslow’s knee. They may try to add some tight end depth in the draft. But I think they realize they have a tight end that has been a productive pass-catcher in the draft. Unless they’ve got their eye on some former basketball player and somehow plan to use their tight ends the same way New Orleans uses Graham, I expect they’ll stick with Winslow.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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