Time to go in-depth with the Buccaneers first round pick, tight end O.J. Howard.
Buccaneers fans were over the moon when Roger Goodell announced the 19th pick of the draft. There was no way this guy was going to be available, right? Well, there he was, to even the surprise of Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht. So, O.J. Howard, a guy many ranked as a top ten player in the draft, was a member of the Bucs at 19.
Howard talked about what jumped out at him about the Bucs during his introductory press conference:
"What really jumped out to me was when Tampa last season played Dallas, I think on a [Sunday] night. The way I saw them competing, I love that. They had a great season and that jumped out, improvement every year. That was always in my mind, I never thought I could probably be here. But you know, now that I’ve thought about that back then, it’s like, ‘Hey, it all makes sense.’ So, I really noticed them early in the season.”"
More from The Pewter Plank
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- ESPN predicts surprising outcome to Devin White trade saga
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
How can we not love that attitude? During that game against the Cowboys, we are a long way from draft time. But Howard was looking ahead, and the concept of playing for the Bucs was one that he liked.
So, he is widely known as a top player, and he is happy to be in Tampa. I’d say that is a pretty good way to begin a relationship, wouldn’t you?
To start the profile off, let’s take a look at Howard’s stats during his career at Alabama:
Don’t be alarmed by the low touchdown numbers. Nick Saban underuses his tight end in the passing game. In the current decade, no Alabama tight end has posted close to double-digit touchdowns receiving. These are excellent numbers for an Alabama tight end.
WEIGHT: 251 pounds
ARM LENGTH: 33 3/4″
At 6’6″ tall, Howard will stand out in the red zone. The more arms that can stand out in the forest, the better. It’s a tall man’s game, and Howard is tall.
Let’s look at last year’s game between Alabama and Auburn, and see what Howard can do:
It’s hard not to like the fact that you can line Howard up all over the formation. He can be split outside, he can line up on the line, he can line up off the line. Howard is quite versatile and that will make him look quite good to a pro coach. I liked seeing him off the line and then coming across the line of scrimmage as an “h-back”. Not many tight ends come across the formation for a shovel pass.
Look, it’s all there for Howard as a receiver. He is fast, and not just straight line fast. He can make people miss. He catches the ball with his hands, which is becoming far too unique among young players in this league. More than that, however, his hands are good. O.J. Howard doesn’t drop passes.
The most improvement needs to come in his blocking. Let’s face it; it’s not easy being a tight end. They are tasked with blocking like an offensive lineman and catching passes like a receiver. If they can’t block, defensive coordinators know where the ball is going when the tight end comes in. If they can’t catch a pass, they know he will be kept at the line when in the game.
But that doesn’t mean he can go without doing one or the other. To his credit, I see effort in Howard’s blocking. But he needs to use his hands just a bit better. Sometimes, he gets the drop on his opponent by using his shoulder to hit the guy. That can work in college, but in the pros, a good lineman will swat him out of the way to get to the ball carrier. Howard needs more range of how he attacks his opponent with his hands in order to keep him at bay longer.
Even if he isn’t a great blocker right away, Howard can still make an immediate impact with his speed and pass-catching ability. This was a steal for the Bucs.