When I first read ESPN.com’s Todd McShay talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars making OJ Howard the highest tight end ever draft, I laughed. [DavidL]
Then, I saw the tape and watched more tape. This kid could be the next big thing – possibly better than Kellen Winslow, or Jason Witten or a host of NFL tight ends who made a career of catching passes and serving as another set of hands.
Howard may not be drafted fourth overall. However, there is a strong possibility he will be gone before the 13th pick in this draft. Kellen Winslow Jr. was the sixth pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. The San Francisco 49ers chose Vernon Davis in the same spot in 2006. Howard has not stepped on an NFL field. Yet the “experts” are projecting him to be better and more successful.
His decision to play his senior season for the Crimson Tide could prove to be his best move. Whoever drafts him will get a complete player. Furthermore, a player ready to show the NFL he can be the best tight end in the game.
In this player profile, we will look at the strengths and weaknesses of Howard as he moves on to the next level. We also include a few teams that are trying to add help to their tight end corps.
Nice size at 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds. Makes for a big target in the red zone and over the middle. Ran a 4.51-40, which means he can outrun linebackers in coverage.
Howard looks more like a power forward than a traditional NFL tight end. He shows quickness and balance in gaining a clean release off the line of scrimmage, slipping by the jabs from defenders because of his body control and fluid athleticism.
OJ Howard remains far from a finished product. At this time, he is far too reliant on his size and athleticism as a route-runner, showing limited shoulder fakes and altered gaits to keep defenders guessing.
He may take a year at the pro level to become a complete player.
In addition, he was not a primary target at Alabama. Consequently, NFL teams will be asking him to do more.
Jacksonville (4th overall), Carolina (8th overall), Buffalo (10th overall) Cleveland 12th overall, New Orleans (13th overall).