Alabama TE OJ Howard - Photo courtesy of Alabama
It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need some athletic playmakers on offense and Alabama tight end O.J. Howard certainly fits the bill with the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bucs picked Howard over Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, which surprised some of the Tampa Bay fan base.
Howard earned the praise of NFL scouts for not skipping the Senior Bowl due to his draft status and for putting on a show during the week and on game day for NFL talent evaluators, including the Buccaneers.
Howard, who had four catches for 39 yards in the Senior Bowl, including a gain of 24 yards, had just one 100-yard game in college, but it was a doozy. It was Howard’s five-catch, 208-yard performance in the 45-40 win over Clemson in the 2015 national championship game in which he had touchdowns covering 53 and 51 yards.
Howard’s Alabama Career Stats
2016: 45 catches for 595 yards (13.2 avg.) with 3 TDs and a long of 68 yards
2015: 38 catches for 602 yards (15.8 avg.) with 2 TDs and a long of 63 yards
2014: 17 catches for 260 yards (15.3 avg.) with 0 TDs and a long of 53 yards
2013: 14 catches for 269 yards (19.2 avg.) with 2 TDs and a long of 52 yards
At just under 6-foot-6, and weighing 249 pounds, Howard used his size and 4.51 speed to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties to make big plays downfield. Howard had 14 catches of 30 yards or more at Alabama, which shows his explosiveness, but was incredibly under-utilized in his four-year Crimson Tide career.
Alabama TE OJ Howard – Photo by: Getty Images
Consider that his 208-yard effort against Clemson accounted for one-third of Howard’s production during the entire 2015 season and both of his touchdowns that year. And his production didn’t rise much the following year with just seven more catches for seven fewer yards and one more score. Howard didn’t know why he didn’t have a bigger role in 2016.
“I have no idea, honestly man,” said Howard at the Senior Bowl. “It was kind of a question mark my whole career about that, but I’ve never been able to give an answer to this day.”
The Bucs could use another tight end to team with Cameron Brate in 2017 and allow Dirk Koetter to go back to his original plan of using both Brate and Austin Seferian-Jenkins together in 2016 before a DUI prior to Week 3 prompted ASJ’s release. While Brate enjoyed a breakout season with 57 catches for 660 yards eight touchdowns, which tied for the NFL lead among tight ends, his presence as sorely missed in the final two games of the season when he suffered a back injury at New Orleans and Tampa Bay’s passing game nearly ground to a halt.
With only Luke Stocker and Brandon Myers behind Brate on the depth chart, and neither is much of a receiving threat, Tampa Bay wants another tight end that can work the seam and make big plays in the passing game. But given the fact that the Bucs struggled to run the ball well last year, and that Brate is not an exceptional in-line blocker, Tampa Bay is looking for a tight end that can block and catch. And there aren’t too many complete tight ends coming out of college these days.
After facing Jimmy Graham in New Orleans, Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta and Greg Olsen in Carolina for years in the NFC South, the Bucs finally have not just one, but two tight ends to threaten their division rivals with Brate and Howard as head coach and playcaller Dirk Koetter incorporates more two tight end sets in 2017 the way New England does with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.
“I think he had two goals, one, show he can separate against man-to-man coverage, and two, confirm that he is a much better blocker than he was a couple years ago. Both goals were accomplished,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said of Howard at the Senior Bowl. “In my opinion, he’s a top-20 pick and my NFL comp for him will be Greg Olsen. He can block, he can be in-line, and he can beat you downfield vertically.”
Stay tuned to PewterReport.com for more on the Bucs’ selection of Howard.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well as cook kept on falling, I thought Howard would be picked by the Titans. I can’t complain one bit here. It improves our run game and our passing game. Jameis love passing the seem routes to tight ends. What a crazy draft, I thought there was zero chance Howard would be available.
I’m disappointed it’s not Cook. For such a stud, I can’t get passed the fact that he was very pedestrian in college. I hope he really kills it this year though!
Hey my friend, I am slightly disappointing as well, but I think his sub par numbers were a reflection of shit QB play at Alabama the last 4 years. This was a great pick and if he wasn’t there, I”m sure the pick would’ve been cook all day. Let’s hope he keeps slipping.
And the OC Kiffen.
We just got the steal of the draft
I’m ecstatic with this pick … all Bucs fans should be, as Howard was clearly the BAP. Kiper had him as 5th best in the draft, couldn’t believe he was still there at 19.
We had several other excellent choices available, but you can’t pass up a talent like OJ if he’s there.
I cannot believe he was there either. The fact that these massive trades were made for mediocre QB’s is mind blowing. We definitely have the steal of the draft so far. And who knows where cook goes at this point. Don’t think he makes it past GB.
It’s hell to be picking in the bottom half of the draft when you don’t have a QB. It makes those QB-needy teams reach, and it seems like it rarely works out. And the fact that so many QBs were taken in the top, along with a rush on defensive players in the second ten pick, is what opened the door for the Bucs with Howard.
Of course, nobody knows how well OJ will work out for us .. but man, nobody is going to say Jameis doesn’t have any targets to throw to this year! Cam and OJ, and Mike and DSJ … throw in a healthy Doug Martin, and a slot receiver and a running back in the middle rounds, and look out NFC South defenses!
Steal of the draft belongs to John lynch. For what he got from Chicago and then getting foster with the 31st pick. He is having a great draft.
He sure did take advantage of the Bears who apparently were still desperate for a QB. Guess they already figured out Mike Glennon is a nice back-up and nothing more.
You’re right about that WNB, the bears got fleeced, what a joke of an organization. I bet Mike is like “fuck” right now. Shoulda stayed in Tampa in that warm weather and collected a nice backup check.
OMG BUC fans, top 10 player at 19. God loves the BUCS!!! 💥💥💥
I couldn’t believe it played this way
Funny how just yesterday I called out the cbssport reporter who had us drafting Howard and yet here it happened. What can’t miss tv from this draft. We got a top ten pick this late in the draft and he makes this team better ten fold. Go bucs!
Haven’t seen better fortune for the buccaneers since Sapp and Brooks came on board… just breathtaking!!!!!
Fantastic pick – helps the run game and the pass game. Think of what Winston did with ASJ when he was (far too infrequently) in the line up and multiply…our offense just got better and is close now to being able to carry us through a game. Well done!
Awesome. This is working out perfect. depending on what we do in second and third, this is going to be a great draft I am beginning to think. So many players slipping.
I told you guys that Santa Claus was real and he came early this year! I am one happy Buc fan. Never thought this could happen. Somebody up there likes me! lol.
I am amazed also that he lasted that long. Wow. The Bucs are better. James is a better qb. Go Bucs!!!!
Said three Q.B.’s would go before we picked,and someone good would fall to us. Top ten talent at #19, weapons for Jameis, great pick. Would’ve been happy with Cook too, but NOT a safety, or corner. Funny thing is, Cook’s still in play. Fall to 50?
You were right! I thought there was no way 3 mediocre QB’s would be picked in the top 12 and 3 WR’s would be picked in the top 9, but surferdudes…YOU were right!
Koetter just jizzed his pants lol.
Good things happen when you let the draft come to you.
No one should be upset about this pick. A TE that can catch and more importantly BLOCK.
Now let’s not do something stupid, like trading up to get a holder for Aguayo.
Nope. I want a long snapper.
BTW, John Lynch is killing it. Probably the best draft so far.
The fact that he got what he did from the Bears ro move up one spot is crazy. the bears should fire their GM before the draft starts tomorrow.
That would be awesome.
Welcome to the team OJ HOWARD!!!
May your Bucs career be long and prosperous.
I’m not surprised O.J. Howard was there as evidenced by my mock draft as I had the Bucs taking him.
I think his value is right where we took him so in that sense I think it was a good pick. It’s hard for me to get too excited about a TE in the first round (would rather have had an OT), but certainly better than taking Hargreaves last year. We’re off to a good start with with draft, let’s keep it tomorrow. I truly believe the league will be divided 5 years from now based on how teams draft Friday night, not tonight. There is a LOT of talent still left at the CB, RB, DE and LB position that we need to take advantage of. Go Bucs!
A perfect Storm!! ………………………. Let it rain! ……………….. A real steal!
I never dreamed that Howard would fall to us at 19. I would have wanted him even if we were picking in the top 12. Now we will have an offense to be reckoned with.
I hope we can get a quality Cornerback, Safety or Defensive End in the 2nd round. We could additionally obtain a decent RB in the 3rd.
I believe the NFC South could be a real dogfight this year.
I am thrilled with this pick.
Bucs in a two tight end set with: Howard, Brate, Jackson, Evans. Who you gonna cover Panthiers/Falcons/Saints?
Bucs in a two tight end set with: Howard, Brate, Jackson, Evans. Who you gonna cover Panthiers/Falcons/Saints? That is basically a four wide receiver set that makes the defense also respect the run because of Howard’s blocking. This offense is going to be alot of fun to watch.
WOOOOOOOOO!!! I know I have been on the picking defense wagon but I never believed Howard would be available. Steal is right! I am happy SF moved back in front of the Saints so they couldn’t take Foster. What a 1st round!
That was my hope, but I thought the chances were slim; very, very slim. This was larceny. Grand theft larceny. It’s a felony. Licht should be arrested. Okay so the opponents double Evens and Jackson. We send out our two tight ends and run Humphreys in a slotted no back set. Oh my!
O.J. Howard, Jamal Adams and Christian McCaffrey were my favorite players entering the Draft. I didn’t think we had a realistic chance to get any of them. So Cook was my target at 19 or move down a bit and just take the BPA. I hate to make too many predictions, but this guy looks like a faster, taller Jimmie Giles. Catches the ball and runs effortlessly. No idea why Alabama didn’t feature him more but his skills are off the chart. Thank goodness for the QB desperate teams.
Howard and McCaffrey were mine also.
It wasn’t OJ’s fault they didn’t throw him the ball. But when he ran that 40 at the combine I thought we will never get him, but you just never know.
Yesterday I wrote a letter to Jason Licht.
I want to amend that letter.
Thank you very much. I don’t know how or who you bribed or threatened, but you are the man!!!
A LONG TIME FAN WHO HAS SUFFERED BUT WAS JUST GIVEN A GREAT PAIN KILLER
Welcome to Tampa OJ
IMO Howard is the most ready offensive player in the draft!!
This kinda reminds me of the draft when W. Sapp fell in our laps.
I love this pic kid is a stud with rare talent and speed for his position hopefully this spells the end to Luke Stocker ha
I love that they got O.J. Howard. Amazing job! So excited, I was worried about Vernon Hargreaves III being too small last year. But O.J. Howard? A beast!!!
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