A Blocking Work In Progress

August 3rd, 2023

Bucs rookie TE Payne Durham.

After hearing Todd Bowles today, it’s safe to say rookie tight end Payne Durham will be a very a part-time player unless he can prove he’s a true touchdown player under the bright and beautiful lights of preseason.

Bowles talked today about veteran tight end David Wells in Bucs training camp. Wells has drawn praise from a variety of Bucs and Bowles said he’s done “surprisingly well” at blocking.

Conversely, Bowles said Durham’s blocking is a work in progress.

“Offensively, I know he’s a heck of a red zone target,” Bowles said of Durham. “He’s a lean guy and he’s a tall guy; he can put some muscle on his frame. But he’s a big target for us that he can catch the ball. We’re working on the blocking and getting stronger.”

Durham measured 6-6, 253 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, but as Bowles noted, he’s got more of a lean frame and it sounds like that showed up on film when the pads came on in training camp. To get significant time on this run-first Bucs team, Durham probably will have to beef up.

Bowles likes the all-around game of No. 1 tight end Cade Otton. Bowles praised his mental growth after his 2022 rookie season. “A heady football player,” Bowles commented. “He’s been solid all the way around and he’s been having a good camp.”

Joe is sure the Bucs will keep four tight ends, presumably Otton, Durham, Wells and Ko Kieft, but Durham might have issues seeing the field barring injuries.

The Bucs have other red zone targets, so Durham’s potential there may not enough to get him snaps.

11 Responses to “A Blocking Work In Progress”

  1. Marine Buc Says:

    No Payne – no gain.

    I look forward to watching this guy develop.

  2. Austin Says:

    Dude could be a beast

  3. Buc4evr Says:

    5th rounder that can’t block. Sounds like practice squad material until he can bulk up and learn to block.

  4. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    I expect Durham to get better but, as a rookie, it will likely come in bits and pieces. May have to wait til next year for him to make a significant impact. I’m looking for Otton to be a very nice receiver for us and hopefully he can block a bit.

  5. Mike Says:

    With his foot speed, he’s gotta use his red zone catching as his main bread and butter to get on the field, but to be on the field outside of obvious red zone plays, he’s got to be able to bulk up enough to be a consistent blocker. It will come in time.

  6. Hodad Says:

    Doesn’t have an NFL body yet. Sounds like he needs next off season to get bigger, stronger. Hope he doesn’t make the team just because he was drafted. If Wells is better so be it.

  7. Eckwood Says:

    That’s how he does it sounds, and less he just signed which he may have, I would seriously consider bringing OJ Howard back……. I would venture a guess national writers would probably rate the bucs T end room.l maybe a four ? on a 1 – 10

  8. Mike S Says:

    Otton isn’t exactly Mr Bulk. He’s got a “lean” frame too. Otton’s blocking last year was atrocious. Leftwich basically said “You got Gronk’s job. Go get em kid!” which in retrospect was a bad plan. Otton does appear to be a slick route runner with good hands.

    I’ve said this before – he’s more like Brate than Gronk far and away.

    Kieft is the team’s best blocker at TE.

    As a whole I’d say the Bucs don’t have the best blocking TE core – and that was part of the running game problem.

  9. SlyPirate Says:

    He’s dropped too many balls in practice. Needs to get his confidence and focus up.

  10. Rod Munch Says:

    I never got some of the scouting reports about Payne Durham that he was a lights out blocker. Watching his tape, he was a guy who looked undersized, like a dedicated receiving TE, until late in his career when I guess he had a growth spurt, but then looked like a big, slow, lumbering TE – however with good hands from his earlier role as a receiving TE. In any case, if my take is correct, he likely didn’t do a ton of blocking until his senior year, so he’d still be learning. However, I do question his speed and ability to get open, since on his senior tape he looked so sluggish. I really questioned the pick at the time, and still wonder what they saw – or if the scouts feel in love with him before his growth spurt and didn’t bother watching the later tape.

  11. garro Says:

    Blocking for an undersized dude can be done. I played LT at about 20 lbs lighter on average than the guys lined up across from me my freshman year and whooped quite a few. Technique and Want To are essential elements. Ask Gronk. He had better blocking grades than many of his O-line teammates. He had the Want To.

    Go Bucs!