Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Pleasant Surprises from Tampa Bay in 2015

Five Buccaneers players who exceeded expectations in 2015.

1. TE Cameron Brate
When Austin Seferian-Jenkins went down with a shoulder injury in Week 2, the Buccaneers were left with a few options at tight end. Luke Stocker was listed as the No. 2 tight end on the depth chart, but his skill set is geared toward being a blocker more than a pass-catcher. With Seferian-Jenkins recovering, Brate stepped in as Tampa Bay's primary receiver from the tight end position and finished tied for second on the team in touchdown receptions. Brate had been waived by the Buccaneers earlier in the season and spent a brief time on the Saints' practice squad before the Buccaneers re-claimed him.

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  1. DE Howard Jones**
    Jones was signed by the Buccaneers on September 7th and made his first appearance on the active roster on October 6th. In his first game, he picked up two sacks. Not only was it Jones' first game as a Buccaneer, it was his first game in the NFL after spending 2014 on the Steelers' practice squad. The following week, in his second game, Jones returned a fumble for a touchdown. Jones started five games in 2015 and finished with five sacks, the third-most on the team.

3. C Joe Hawley
Like Jones, Hawley was a late addition to the Bucs' roster. After Evan Smith was sidelined with an ankle injury in Week 2, Hawley was signed and inserted into the starting lineup. When Smith returned from his injury, Hawley kept the starting job, helping pave the way for Doug Martin to finish No. 2 in the NFL in rushing yards.

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  1. LB Kwon Alexander**
    The Buccaneers hit on all four of their top draft picks this season – Jameis Winston, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Alexander. Following the conclusion of the draft, General Manager Jason Licht said that Alexander's talent probably exceeded his draft position in the fourth round, and he proved to be right. Alexander stepped in to earn the starting middle linebacker job and finished second on the team in tackles, despite missing the final four games of the season.

5. CB Sterling Moore
The Buccaneers experimented with several combinations at cornerback throughout 2015. The team started off with Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks, but gave Mike Jenkins and Tim Jennings playing time as the year went on. Tampa Bay found their most productive cornerback pair with Moore and Jude Adjei-Barimah, who started nine and seven games, respectively. Moore was matched up against some of the NFL's top receivers in 2015, including Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant and Julio Jones. All three were held scoreless.

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