The website Pro Football Focus has graded out Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard as the worst first round pick of 2017 – and no one understands why.
I haven’t been subtle in my dislike for the product put out by Pro Football Focus. I’ve ranted about them on here, on the Walking The Plank podcast, and on Twitter. Nothing against the work they put in – I’m sure they spend hours upon hours studying film and the players within the NFL – but their grades are strictly subjective as to how they view things. This is even more evident in the grades they put out for the players selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft where Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard earned the lowest grade.
Yes, you read that right. O.J. Howard go the worst score of any first round rookie.
These guys study film and assess “grades” based on what they see with absolutely no true knowledge of what the assignments are, what the play calls are, or what responsibilities any player has on any given play. They’re guessing. Educated guesses most of the time, but guesses nonetheless. So how in the world did Howard end up on the bottom rung of the totem pole?
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Howard finished his rookie season with six touchdowns, tied with teammate Cameron Brate and fellow rookie Evan Engram (who finished next to last in the grades), good for seventh in the NFL at the tight end position. Howard had 432 yards on 26 receptions, a 16.6 yards per catch average good for fifth in the NFL – and number one for any tight end with twenty or more receptions on the season. 73.1% of Howard’s catches were good for first downs, ranking fifteenth in the NFL among tight ends.
Yet, he gets a lower grade than John Ross? The Cincinnati Bengal who had ZERO catches on the season? Who had ONE carry for twelve yards and it ended in a FUMBLE? Or how about Corey Davis of the Tennessee Titans, who played in eleven games and finished with 34 receptions for 375 yards and no touchdowns? But yeah, let’s name the Buccaneers’ tight end the worst player of the first round picks…
The fact that Patrick Mahomes received a higher grade than Deshaun Watson in and of itself is a complete joke. These “grades” are a blatantly flawed system that can be easily refuted by anyone who actually pays attention to the NFL. The argument they made for Mahomes was that he only played in one game, so that’s all they have to go on thus resulting the higher grade. News flash: if you are going to grade players – which is a stupid idea to begin with when you still don’t have the playbooks of every team at your disposal as well as the exact play that was called when you watch it on film – then you have to find a way to curve it and make all things equal. You can’t sit there and grade someone out higher because they played “decently in one game.”
This isn’t about “sticking up for my guy,” although I am, it’s about the entire premise being presented as some sort of gospel. And when Cris Collinsworth owns the company and pumps out their grades on a prime time, nationally televised game every single week, it just adds validity to an invalid system.
It either needs to be fixed or abandoned. Until then, those of us that have a set of working eyes knows darn well how much better O.J. Howard and Evan Engram were than John Ross or Corey Davis.