Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard named as breakout performer

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 22: O.J. Howard #80 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on October 22, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 22: O.J. Howard #80 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball during the second quarter of an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on October 22, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Entering his third year in the NFL, O.J. Howard of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been tabbed as a potential breakout candidate in 2019.

As the offseason lugs along, it is not hard to find articles making predictions for the upcoming season. In one written by The Draft Network’s Joe Marino predicting NFC South breakout performers, he tabbed third-year tight end as a star waiting to bust out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"“Howard’s blend of size, athletic ability, physicality and ball skills make him a matchup nightmare… Howard is insanely gifted and I expect head coach Bruce Arians to maximize his playmaking ability to the fullest moving forward” (Marino via The Draft Network)."

This year may just be the perfect storm for Howard, given a determined Jameis Winston in his contract year, the vertical offense of new head coach Bruce Arians, and the departure of Adam Humphries (he will now more than likely see more targets over the middle of the field). Should Howard manage to stay healthy for a full 16 games, he could cross the 1,000 yard mark and hit double-digit touchdowns.

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Over his first two seasons, Howard has posted a statline of 60 catches, 997 yards, and 11 touchdowns. In an ideal situation, he would hit those numbers in 2019 for the Buccaneers, who enter a make-or-break season this year.

Last year, in just ten games, Howard posted 34 catches for 565 yards and five touchdowns in Tampa Bay. He and fellow tight end Cameron Brate boast one of the most talented tandems in the entire NFL at the position.

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Howard should become a huge weapon for Winston, needing to perform well in his contract year, and post massive numbers in 2019 for the Buccaneers. Only time will tell if Howard can stay on the field and live up to the hype in his third season.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard named as potential breakout performer