A rookie, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard is ready to make a name for himself.
Lost in all the talk about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is rookie O.J. Howard . Because of him, a rather interesting position battle at the tight end position is brewing. The position is solidified at the moment for Tampa Bay, but it may see change in the future. This past draft in my estimation, is proof of that.
As of now, Cameron Brate is Tampa Bay’s starting tight end. That is where he should be, especially after a productive 2016 season. Catching 57 passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns, he was second on the team in receiving behind Mike Evans. It was truly a career year for him as the receptions, yards, and touchdowns were a personal best.
The Harvard University product had his best game of the season on Dec. 4 against San Diego. In that contest, he caught nine passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Averaging 14.3 yards per catch, he was able to spread the field and was a dependable target.
With that in mind, the Buccaneers were able to draft another tight end in April that is no stranger to productive seasons. O.J. Howard, the former Alabama product would be the player that is indeed no stranger to the big-time.
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A four-year player for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, Howard’s best year came in 2015 when he caught 38 passes for 602 yards and two touchdowns.
The National Championship Game that year was perhaps not only his finest hour of that season, but of his Alabama career. Catching five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, he was an integral part of the Tide’s 45-40 victory over Clemson. That game opened the eyes of many people and solidified himself as one of the top tight end prospects in all of college football.
What does this mean for Brate? For right now, I still think he will see the majority of the snaps. That is not to say that Howard will not receive any playing time. I think he will, albeit in limited action as is typical with many rookies.
However, come three or four years down the road, I think that may change. He is already drawing comparisons to some of the best tight ends in the league. Sean Wagner-McGough of CBSSports.com said this about Howard back in April.
"“He’s been compared to both (Jimmy) Graham (by Rob Rang) and (Julius) Thomas (by NFL.com). For the Buccaneers’ sake, hopefully he looks more like the Broncos‘ version of Julius Thomas than the Jaguars‘ version of Julius Thomas.”"
That is some pretty high praise. For the sake of the Buccaneers, they hope he can live up to it.