OJ Howard is a player that could upgrade the Ravens offense and provide a much needed target for Joe Flacco
Going into the 2016 season, the Baltimore Ravens had depth at the tight end position. Dennis Pitta was finally back from injury and the team had signed a veteran in Ben Watson. There was also young talent in Crockett Gilmore, Nick Boyle, and Darren Waller. That depth diminished in a flash when injuries occurred. Watson tore his Achilles in the first preseason game and Gilmore was limited to just seven games. Pitta had a great bounce back season, but he is already 31 years old.
Watson is most likely on his way out because of cap issues and the younger talent has been plagued with injuries. An option in the 2017 draft could be Alabama tight end OJ Howard.
Rob Gronkowski Like
OJ Howard is massive frame at 6’6″ 250 pounds. That is size you cannot teach. He reminds me of a a young Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. He is big tight end that can contribute in the running game, but will do most of his damage catching the ball. His numbers during his four years at Alabama are not eye popping, but you have to realize what kind of offense he is playing in. It is an offense that thrives off of the ground and pound game.
When it comes to the big games, Howard shows up. In both of his championship appearances, he has had some monster games. During Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson in 2016, he tallied 205 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. In their loss in January he caught for over 100 yards and one score.
His size and ability to catch the ball is very attractive to NFL teams. NFL linebackers and defensive backs are going to have a very hard time covering him. Most of the time it will take more than one defender to bring him down.
- Size makes him hard to bring down
- Soft hands
- Almost impossible to cover in passing game
- Agile for a big man
- Raw talent, needs some polishing
- Must improve route running
Where Will He Land?
Howard is essentially a first round lock. Where he goes in the first round is the real question. There are mock drafts that have Howard going in the top 10. It will depend on how the beginning of the draft goes. This draft is said to be deep in the tight end position. I definitely do not think the Ravens need to trade up for him, especially since he is not one of their top needs.
If he does fall to the #16 pick, it would be interesting to see what they would do. General Manager Ozzie Newsome is a former tight end and has close ties to the University of Alabama. Newsome played their during his college career. The Ravens have not been shy in taking Alabama players in the past.