Many in the media scouting world are beginning to talk about OJ Howard in the top 10 discussions, including Todd McShay in his latest mock draft. Is he worth THAT high a draft pick? Or is it just a matter of him being the ‘safest’ player?
Looking quickly back to the last (3) top 10 drafted TE’s would bring us:
2014 NFL Draft – Pick 10 – Eric Ebron
2006 NFL Draft – Pick 6 – Vernon Davis
2004 NFL Draft – Pick 6 – Kellen Winslow
Based off of that, our batting average is .333
Yes, Kellen Winslow had a good NFL career but not a top-10 draft pick worthy career. Obviously, you need to grade individual players and can’t go entirely off of past history. Some players are the generational type of players and are worth top 10 picks even if the position isn’t a premier position. And TE certainly isn’t a premier position on a football team, more of a luxury position.
With that being said, what are the chances OJ Howard goes top 10 and what are the chances that he materializes into an ELITE player in the NFL?
Will OJ Howard go top 10?
In short, no. NFL GM’s are perfectly aware that the TE position generally doesn’t call for a top 10 pick unless the player is rare. I don’t believe any NFL GM’s believe Howard is a ‘RARE’ player, but a very very good player.
I understand all the arguments for OJ Howard. He has the ability to be a 3-down player in this league impacting both the blocking aspects of this game and also the receiving aspects. I think Howard is clearly the most refined and NFL ready TE in this class and I think he’s going to be a heckuva player in this league. But I think he’s more of a back half of the 1st round type of guy, not a top 10 pick. Why? Let’s get into that.
Will OJ Howard be an elite player in the NFL?
Who knows…. But I do have several concerns about Howard. First, it’s been noted by many in NFL circles that Howard is a bit of a ‘passive’ guy, both in his personal life and on the football field. Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion but for a ‘point of attack’ TE in the NFL to be a passive guy, that worries me quite a bit. Does he want to be great? Does he love football? I don’t know, but those are all very good auxiliary questions I certainly would want to dig deeper into.
The other major concern with Howard I have is he isn’t ‘GREAT’ at anything. To draft a TE in the top 10, I certainly would expect him to be a dominant receiver in the passing game. I understand production isn’t everything, but you can’t look at the production of Howard over his career at Alabama and tell me he’s a dominant receiver. I understand he has the ‘traits’ to be a really, really good receiver but he isn’t yet or at least hasn’t proven it yet. Wait… that kinda reminds me of a certain player…….(wait for it)…….Eric Ebron.
As a blocker, Howard shows ability and has greatly improved during his time at Alabama. But to say he’s a dominant blocker is a major stretch. He still has work to do.
Hopefully, you’re not getting the idea that I don’t like Howard, I clearly do. He’s my # 1 TE in this class. I just have my concerns. I think he’s going to be a really good starting TE in this league, but he doesn’t possess the top 10 traits I look for. Therefore, I would be MUCH, MUCH more comfortable drafting him in the 20-32 range in the 1st round.