O.J. Howard NFL Draft Profile
The tight end position presents a veritable witches brew of potential pitfalls for fantasy owners. You can be enticed to deploy an early pick on Rob Gronkowski or Jordan Reed, due to their propensity to deliver high-quality production. But injuries have conspired to prohibit that tandem from performing in all 16 regular season games during nine of their 11 combined seasons. You can also exhibit patience before a choosing a tight end, but that places you at risk of receiving either inconsistent or unacceptable output from your disappointing starters. However, O’Terrius Jabari (O.J.) Howard should be embraced by owners who desperately covet a ray of hope. Not only does the 22-year old possess an irrefutable mixture of exceptional physical tools, but there is also the distinct possibility that he will quickly develop into a formidable weapon at the NFL level. Of course, the initial step in that process is for Howard to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. His name could be called very early on the night of April 27th, as there is increasing speculation that he will be among this year’s top 10 picks. If that occurs, it will place him in a select category.
Howard proceeded to start five games, and secure snaps in all 13 contests as a freshman, while amassing 14 receptions for 269 yards, two scores, and a team high 19.2 YPC average. He continued to perform in every game as a sophomore while collecting 17 catches for 260 yards in 2014. His output rose appreciably as a junior when Howard assembled 38 receptions for 602 yards. Then, he gathered 45 passes for 595 yards and three touchdowns last season. While his numbers did not rise steadily in every major receiving category, that was not the result of any significant shortcomings. As he remained a multi-talented athlete with big play capabilities, that was nevertheless just one component of Alabama’s potent offense. His most memorable production occurred against Clemson in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. When he grabbed five passes for 208 yards, generated two touchdowns that exceeded 50 yards, and burst for 63 yards in his longest catch of the contest. Essentially one year later, he exploited yet another coverage breakdown by the Tigers, by scampering 68 yards into the end zone during their Championship Game rematch.
O. J. Howard will present the team that selects him with a desirable blend of abilities, that contain the potential to elevate Howard into a consistent playmaker at the professional level. He is an extremely capable athlete, who can line up anywhere on the field, then explode beyond opposing linebackers and safeties. Many of which will struggle sizably when they are forced to contend with Howard’s lethal combination of size and speed. His new signal caller can also rely upon Howard to secure passes launched in his direction. As he is a trustworthy receiver, who can take full advantage of his 33 3/4″ arm length and 10” hands, even if he is operating in traffic. Howard has also demonstrated his proficiency as a run blocker, which should further endear him to the team that selects him. It will become advantageous to utilize his prowess as both a blocker and receiver, which will entrench him as an every-down player. Howard also delivered a strong performance at the NFL Combine, finishing second within this year’s impressive class of tight ends in the 40 Yard Dash (4.51 seconds), while surpassing all others at his position in the Bench Press (22 reps), the 3 Cone Drill (6.85 seconds), the 20 Yard Shuttle (4.16 seconds), and the 60 Yard Shuttle 11:46 seconds).
His inconsistent production as a member of the Crimson Tide does not necessarily indicate a weakness. However, considering his potential to stockpile yardage and touchdowns, it does elicit questions. He collected a total of 114 receptions during his four seasons, while assembling 1,726 yards, and scoring seven times. His initial touchdown versus Clemson was also his first visit to the end zone since his freshman season. Plus, he did not register any 100-yard performances during his career, with the exception of those two encounters with the Tigers. It remains a mystery why such a powerful weapon failed to accumulate more big plays during his collegiate career. Was it a byproduct of Lane Kiffin’s inadequacies in knowing how to utilize him more effectively? Or was it a consequence of being an incredibly capable tight end, operating within a offense that possessed a plethora of other weapons? This topic has not provided a deterrent for franchises to maintain interest in drafting Howard. As the team that secures him during the draft process can be expected to implement his vast collection of skills with unfailing frequency.
As mentioned earlier, the opportunity of utilizing such a fluid athlete, who can combine imposing size with the ability to accelerate through overpowered defenders, and simultaneously function as an adept blocker, will convince a team’s decision makers to seize Howard in the upper portion of Round 1. He should then become an immediate contributor, could easily develop into a top tier performer, and has the capacity to progress further into Pro-Bowl and All-Pro status on a regular basis. This will allow fantasy owners to add a truly gifted performer to their options, at a position that is often laden with excruciating disappointment. While statistical projections are more feasible once Howard’s professional destination has been determined, he should manufacture numbers that warrant his usage as a TE1 this season. With a ceiling that allows for frequent high-quality production throughout his career.