Though the Buccaneers aren’t getting quite the national hype they got last year with Hard Knocks and all the NFL Network publicity, they are still getting recognized by some for having a talented squad and a good outlook for 2018 — minus Winston, for now.

Aaron Nagler, who covers the Green Bay Packers, went out of his way to say that Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is his pick to have the biggest breakout year across the entire league.

Nagler doesn’t even cover the Buccaneers, nor does he have any association or reason to make that claim other than he genuinely believes it. After a season in which Howard tied the team lead in touchdowns with six, a breakout year for Howard would likely include more than the 432 receiving yards he recorded as a rookie.

They say “there’s only one ball”, so in an offense with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cam Brate, Chris Godwin as well as Howard, singular production is tough.

But Nagler and others think that Howard has as good a chance as any to make a big leap in 2018.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I’d say Chris Godwin has the best chance of being the Bucs breakout player this year over TE Howard or RB Jones. I always give rookies 3 years before I make a final judgement on them but I will say up to this point I’m not a fan of Howard. He doesn’t play mentally tough enough when the pads come on. He drops and fumbles too many balls. It happens in the open field but it especially happens in traffic too often for my taste. His blocking will get better, but I don’t think the hands and mental toughness will, given he wasn’t that productive in college from a pass catching and TD standpoint. Last year at least 4 of his TD’s came off the same play. I’m pretty sure NFL defensive coordinators will have an answer for that this year.

    As for Jones, I think his lack of pass catching and pass protection ability will keep him from being our breakout player…this year anyway. I think from when I first saw him in training camp last year I saw everything I needed to see to be convinced Godwin will be the present and future of the Bucs #WR position.

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    • I agree, Pink. The jury is still out for me on Howard. With Godwin, I’ve seen enough. I see NFL greatness ahead for him.

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    • …future of the Bucs’ #2 WR position.

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    • I agree with Godwin Pink, but not for your reasons. I think he will start off hot and strong and the momentum will carry through out the season. Godwin and Fitz have a lot of chemistry already both being 2nd stringers. When fitz needs a 1sy down or is in trouble I think he will look Godwins way most of the time.

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    • Completely disagree. pinkstob says: “His blocking will get better, but I don’t think the hands and mental toughness will, given he wasn’t that productive in college from a pass catching and TD standpoint.” First off he was drafted in part because he was NFL ready and an excellent blocker at Alabama. He has great hands but wasn’t used hardly at all in the regular season in college. Look at his post season performances. I like Godwin, but Howard will be all pro…

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      • I said his blocking would get better because it wasn’t great last year but it was great in college. I said what I said about his pass catching based on what he did last year and in college, not just the postseason in college. We may never make the postseason again as long as Winston is the QB so Howard can’t wait around till then to be more productive as a pass catcher.

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  2. If the run game is effective this year, it should open play action pass opportunities for everyone. Anytime a SAM linebacker gets too aggressive, a TE can slide off the block and look for a five yard toss to grab and run for the open field. But, it only works well when the run game is working well enough to pressure the SAM to commit to run defense.

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  3. I can’t understand the sentiment of being skeptical of O.J.’s ability as a pass catcher. Hello, he was the most explosive down field target on the team last year, he led the team in yards per catch. He’s shown that he has the ability to get wide open deep down the field with his 4.5 speed and finish for touchdowns. Also worth mentioning that he had the highest catch percentage as well, catching 26 passes on 39 targets, 66.7%.

    If Dirk actually starts utilizing him as a Redzone weapon, because In 2017 far too often I saw Howard being pulled for Humphries/DJax in that area of the field, this kid easily could be the best TE in football as soon as this season.

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  4. Well I would rather see a breakout TEAM then worrying about an individual player. All of them need to step up there abilities. So tired of sucking it up at the bottom of the division much less the NFL.

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  5. Agree on Howrd. He’s going to be a beast if Koetter targets him more this year. Some plays he was so open last year. Great speed and not many drops either.

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  6. “They say “there’s only one ball””

    Who is “they?”

    Trevor do you have a couple of little mice in your coat pocket giving you advice?

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