O.J. Howard has been a Tampa Bay Buccaneers player for almost two months now, and the Bucs are still very happy with their first-round pick. We fans haven’t seen much news on Howard, though, and I was craving some more analysis of what he’ll bring to the NFL.
So, I went back to NFL Films producer Greg Cosell’s pre-draft breakdown of Howard over at Yahoo! Sports, and eh....Cosell was very impressed.
My sense in watching the tape of Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is he has not even begun to scratch the surface as a receiver. I think he will develop into a big-time NFL tight end.
Sexy, Cosell. Please tell me more about this big-time NFL tight end that will open up defenses who will play for the Bucs for the next five years (and hopefully his entire career).
In Howard’s tape, you can see the athleticism and movement to win one-on-one against safeties both tight to the formation or detached from it. He’s comfortable and effective running seam and corner routes. He showed the ability to catch easily with soft hands, and a run-after-catch burst.
What Howard brings that many tight ends don’t is the ability to block. He has extensive experience as a run blocker aligned in different spots in multiple run schemes. He has a finishing mentality as a blocker. Given his ability as a receiver, that’s impressive.
Yes yes yes.
Okay so Cosell had a few nitpicks about Howard needing some technique work as a blocker, and a vague question mark about he why he wasn’t used more as a receiver in college (a mystery for the ages, that one)...that’s about it as far as negatives are concerned. I can live with those.
The important takeaway here is that Howard is going to be a very good NFL player. The best comparison I’ve seen continues to be Rob Gronkowski: a highly athletic receiving tight end who can also block. Gronkowski is of course in a league of his own, and reaching his heights will be very difficult for Howard, but stylistically it works.
Which is why Dirk Koetter has to be excited about Howard’s potential. He’s an explosive receiver who also serves as a pivot to design an offense around, the kind of player that is so versatile he can become a nightmare for opposing defenses.
I can’t wait to actually see him on the field.