Two of the Bucs’ rising young stars are beginning to receive some notice on a national stage. writer Marc Sessler has put together a team of the top NFL players under the age of 25 at each position, and tight end O.J. Howard was named to the list with defensive tackle Vita Vea earning an honorable mention.

The Bucs seemed to have hit on their first-round picks of Howard in 2017 and Vea in 2018, respectively. Howard was taken 19th overall while Vea was taken 12th after the Bucs traded back from the No. 7 spot with the Buffalo Bills. Each player has had a promising start to his career at the young age of 24, and now Sessler is rewarding them in this spotlight.

Bucs TE OJ Howard – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Bucs TE OJ Howard – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

In two years, Howard has progressed at a high level each season, and has many believing he will continue to break out even more in 2019. He has 60 receptions for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns so far during his time on the Bucs. He has the rare athleticism with the frame of a tight end but the speed of a receiver, making him a difficult match-up for opposing defenses.

Howard was well on his way to being in the Pro Bowl conversation last season before a leg injury suffered in week 11 against the Giants put him out for the rest of the year. In 2019, he is on the radar of numerous analysts as a player that will end up making that Pro Bowl this time around.

Vea got off to slower start in his rookie year last season. He sustained a calf injury early on in training camp that sidelined him for the first three games of the regular season, making his career debut in Week Four at Chicago. It took a few games for Vea to get acclimated to the competition at the NFL level, but a breakout game in Week Eight against the 49ers got him off to the races.

In that game, he had one sack and three tackles for a loss, and he hasn’t stopped producing since. Vea ended up with three sacks and 28 tackles on the year, which was the same amount of sacks as Warren Sapp and Gerald McCoy had in their rookie seasons, and one more tackle than the two of them as well.

Here was Sessler’s analysis for putting Howard on the list, alongside his acknowledgement of Vea, who was runner up to Kenny Clark of the Green Bay Packers.

Tight end: O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24 as of Sept. 5). Before you ask, San Francisco’s George Kittle already hit the quarter-century mark in October. Howard, however, fits here — and remains my choice over the also-inviting David Njoku (22) — after a tantalizing second season that saw him emerge as a strong-handed pass-catcher who now owns 60 receptions, 997 yards and 11 touchdowns over 24 tilts. In a post-Gronk universe, Howard is a candidate to fill that unfillable space. Questions linger over his usage in an offense led by Bruce Arians, who has historically de-emphasized tight ends, but the Bucs coach never housed a toy like this in Arizona.”

Defensive tackle: Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers (23 as of Sept. 5). More people should know Clark, the somewhat anonymous Green Bay anchor who played well against the run and pass in 2018. Tampa’s Vita Vea (24) deserves a mention here, too, while Chris Jones (turning 25 in July), Leonard Williams (turning 25 in June), DeForest Buckner (25) and Sheldon Rankins (25) all missed out due to age.” – Marc Sessler,

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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2 years ago

I agree with Howard he will be a star however Vita with only 29 tackles 3 sacks total is to early to be mentioned. Wait until after he plays a full year.

2 years ago

Vita’s first-year stats are comparable to Warren Sapp’s. Once he got his feet on the ground he was awesome. Playing next to Suh can only help. Barring injuries, he will be a star. Tremendous strength and, for a man his size, SPEED.

2 years ago

Yes you are right, His first year stats are Comparable to Sapps and he didn’t even play all year. Why do we have to wait a year to state the obvious Bob? The man is very talented and has speed/power combo that is rare. We have to wait a year Because your a moron with all your stupid Vea sucks and is fat comments all last year?

I’d like to see you call him fat to his face and him plow his fat fist into your fat mouth. Now that would be funny.

2 years ago

fredster, I would sell a kidney to afford a ticket to that show.

Buc stops here
2 years ago

…but Jason Licht sucks because he picked a kicker, right? I find it humorous that he gets no credit for good picks but all the blame for bad picks. This includes good undrafted players he seems to find like Carmen Brate, Peyton Barber, and now lost Adam Humphries – all taken off the street.

2 years ago

Fredster, Vita is a over weight D lineman who came here out of shape and the moron trainers pushed him to hard to fast and injured him last year. I am told this year he has came to ota, in better shape being called fat was good for him because he has improved. however in the NFL you need earn things I think it would be a good idea to let him earn it rather than just give it to him now Howard has earned his praise! Also Fredster not wise to call for violence on anyone just cause you… Read more »

2 years ago

Fredster,if you sod tickets to that and donated the money to cancer research the line would stretch around RJ Stadium and cancer might be cured within the year.
Does this latest accolade mean Vea isn’t a bust like many people and DumbAssBob said he was last year.

2 years ago

Bus stops here said, “…he seems to find like Carmen Brate, Peyton Barber, and now lost Adam Humphries – all taken off the street…”
I agree. Let’s look at first round since that can end a GM’s career and destroy a team.
2015 Jameis Winston; head finally screwed on straight due to aging and a new family responsibilities.
2016 VHIII- jury still out, but needle pointed up.
2017 O.J. Howard
2018 Vita Vea
Not bad Meathead

2 years ago

So far we got Donovan Smith and Vita Vea that Ass get to go and tell em like it is and it brings a smile to my face even thinking about it! I’m excited to see Vita this year because his injury last year kept him off the radar and I have a good feelin he’s gonna be scary up the middle moving forward. He seems like he has the personality we hoped McCoy would have which is closer to Mr Selmon where he’s a nice guy but on the field he will wreck your life. It’s gonna be a… Read more »

2 years ago

I never heard anyone in the know claim that Vita Vea was either overweight or out of shape. Yet, Bob, who has probably never been within 100 yards of #50, has been able to determine his physical condition by using his speculative gift.

Vea is a big man with superior strength that was put on display once his calf healed. Didn’t look “fat and out of shape” to anyone who actually watched the games.