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The Buccaneers got the steal of the draft in O.J. Howard

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Almost no one thought he’d be available at number 19.

CFP National Championship Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers collected a 2017 NFL draft class filled with value picks: players who looked like the best available talents when the team picked. That started with first-round pick O.J. Howard, the Alabama tight end who may have been the steal of the draft.

Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network’s Move The Sticks podcast are convinced that O.J. Howard is the biggest steal of the draft. They emphasized what Howard will do for the Bucs’ passing game and Jameis Winston in particular.

If we look at mock drafts, too, we can see that Howard was a steal—at least compared to where the draftniks had him going. Adam Stites of SB Nation collected a slew of mock drafts to see how good they were at predicting the first round, and it turns out that almost none of them though O.J. Howard would be available for the Bucs at number 19.

Running back dominated mock drafts for the Buccaneers, but with Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, and Alvin Kamara all still available, Tampa Bay opted for a tight end instead. Five mock drafts featured Howard to the Buccaneers, but 94 of the 104 thought he would’ve already been gone in the 18 picks prior.

We’ll have to wait and see whether Howard actually develops into the star everyone seems to think he can be. But we can say that, going by the information we have right now, the Bucs got tremendous value.