Here are you final Buccaneers grades for the 2017 NFL draft.
The NFL draft is in the books. All of the picks have been made. Let’s get to the final grades for your Buccaneers.
This pick by the Bucs seemed to strike one of two nerves. Either fans loved it, or they hated the fact the team passed on Dalvin Cook who ended up with the Minnesota Vikings a round later.
What the team got instead was a player most called a Top-10 talent, and head coach Dirk Koetter himself said he wasn’t expecting to be available in the slightest.
I’m convinced actually, had O.J. Howard been gone, the Bucs likely would’ve traded out of the spot.
As it sits, we get the opportunity to cheer on a tight end who brought in 114 receptions for 1,726 yards in his career as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
This includes more than 500-yards receiving in each of his final seasons in Tuscaloosa and around 40 catches in each of those year’s as well.
Now, some will say these numbers actually go against Howard. If we get beyond the numbers though, it’s important to look at the system he was working in.
Comparatively, the New Orleans Saints snagged Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas in the second round in last year’s draft.
Part of why Thomas fell so far is evaluators didn’t think he had elite ability to separate against defenders due, in part, to his 56 catch 781 yard final year in Columbus.
The top receiver for a National Championship team had less than 200 more receiving yards and just 11 more catches than Howard did in 2016.
Yet, in the NFL level when inserted into an offense with a quarterback who uses his wide receivers at a high level, Thomas exploded onto the scene for 92 catches and 1,137 yards in his rookie campaign.
He did so well, his success sparked the tinder which would eventually lead to Brandin Cooks tantruming his way out of the “Big Easy”.
What does this have to do with Howard? Simple, O.J. didn’t have Jameis Winston at Alabama and he didn’t play in a system which likes to feature their tight ends as key receiving options.
Howard is as good a receiver as Brate today, and he’s just going to get better. Tampa loves running two tight-end sets, and now they can do so with a young player who threatens as a receiver, but can also stay in-line as an effective blocker.
What this pick does for the offense can’t be understated, and it was the steal of the entire first-round.