O.J. Howard is the best tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft class. The question, then, is not about the Alabama product's ranking, but rather how high he'll be drafted April 27. Many think he'll be selected in the top 10.
Howard at the NFL Combine ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at 6-6, 251 pounds. In four seasons at Alabama, Howard recorded 114 catches for 1,726 yards. Here is Howard's 2017 NFL Draft scouting report, provided by Optimum Scouting's 2017 NFL Draft Guide.
O.J. Howard NFL Combine results
40-yard dash: 4.51
Bench press: 22
Broad jump: 121.0
3-cone drill: 6.85
20-yard shuttle: 4.16
60-yard shuttle: 11.46
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Scouting report: O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
Howard's unusually high ranking for a tight end coming out of high school was, for the most part, accurate. Howard at Alabama played in every season for which he was eligible, and he caught 114 passes for 1,726 yards (15 yards per catch) but only seven touchdowns.
Athletically, Howard checks all the boxes as a gifted athlete. He showed off that athleticism when he played the trifecta of sports at Autauga Academy in Prattville, Ala.
Early in his career Crimson Tide career, Howard was viewed as a bust who struggled to be the offensive focal point coaches and fans were expecting. He had some growing pains, but they turned him into the near-unanimous top tight end prospect in the 2017 draft class.
Though Howard oozes with potential and has the skills to be coached to an All-Pro level, criticisms of him are fair.
Some question Howard's determination to be the best football player possible. His under-utilization in college might not be just because of schemes — his lack of overall grasp of the game might have been a cause, too.
Demeanor is one thing evaluators can legitimately question, but Howard's overall talent is not. He has elite, natural athletic traits. He remains raw in some receiving areas, but that's a coachable flaw.
If drafted into the right situation, Howard should be a production freak within his first two or three seasons in the NFL.
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This NFL Draft scouting report is included in Optimum Scouting’s 2017 NFL Draft Guide, which is available for purchase here. The draft guide includes 300-plus scouting reports as well as position-specific analytics for prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
(Report by Christian Page)