O.J. Howard is looking to emerge as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers premiere receiving target. Expect him to redefine the position at tight end.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected a rare athlete in the 2017 NFL Draft. They selected tight end O.J. Howard out of Alabama in the first round as the 19th overall pick. His talent has yet to reach its full potential but he has undeniably flashed his immense talent already.
As a Buccaneers tight end, he has caught 60 passes for 997 yards with 11 touchdowns. He averages 16.6 yards per reception. Outside of the production he’s had to this point, Howard’s size and speed are a remarkable combination.
Howard stands 6-6, weighing 251 pounds and ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. And you can see those physical tools on the field. One of his teammates, rookie linebacker Devin White, has taken notice.
Eduardo A. Encina of TampaBay.com quoted White saying the following on Howard:
"“He’s just a big wide receiver. He’s not a tight end. Tight ends don’t run that fast. They just don’t play like him.”"
Howard has definitely impressed White. Opposing defensive coordinators will have to take notice and gameplan for him. Howard will draw double coverage due to his size and speed.
When fellow tight end Cameron Brate is on the field, expect Howard to lineup in the slot. The Buccaneers receiving corps will be hard to contain, especially with Mike Evans playing out wide. Jameis Winston has good reliable targets to throw towards.
This season, if healthy, Howard should begin to separate himself from the other fellow tight ends in the NFL. Howard has battled through an ankle injury. He has missed eight regular season games because of injuries to both ankles.
Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com reports the following:
"Howard is probably one of the Buccaneers’ best candidates to rise from good to truly elite status in the NFL at any given position this year."
Bruce Arians inherited a diamond in the rough. Arians should put Winston in the position to make smart plays with his offensive weapons. The size and speed of Howard will definitely pay huge dividends for the Buccaneers.
Howard is as physically big as any NFL tight end. But he is truly the biggest, speediest tight end to come along in decades. It will be awesome to watch Howard use both tools to redefine the tight end position.