O.J. Howard still confused by lack of use during Alabama career
When O.J. Howard hears his named called at the 2017 NFL Draft, it will almost certainly be in the first round.
However, the former Alabama tight end doesn’t have numbers that jump off the page. In 2016, his senior season, he only recorded 45 catches for 595 yards and three touchdowns.
CBSSports.com still has Howard ranked as the top tight end in this year’s draft, even though his production stayed pretty much the same from his junior year, when he broke out for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the national championship game against Clemson.
After that game, Howard figured he’d be a bigger part of the offense in 2016, but that simply didn’t happen. According to SBNation, who interviewed Howard ahead of Saturday’s Senior Bowl, he still thinks about why he wasn’t used more this season:
“I have no idea, honestly man,” Howard said at the Senior Bowl. “It was kind of a question mark my whole career about that, but I’ve never been able to give an answer to this day.”
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end has all the physical attributes the NFL looks for in a tight end, which will help him remain atop many teams’ tight-end rankings.
However, he’ll have to answer a lot of questions at the combine about his mental state and attitude when passes weren’t coming his way.
According to Howard, though, he’s already faced plenty of questions like that, so he’s ready for them:
“[NFL scouts] ask me sometimes how did I stay focused and I told them that I’m the type of person if I get so disappointed and frustrated about that, it shows on the field,” Howard said. “So I had to stay focused and do what’s best for myself and my future. That’s how I stayed positive through the process.”
To be fair, the Crimson Tide had plenty of options offensively the past two seasons, from RBs Derrick Henry, Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough to WRs Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart. In 2016, freshman QB Jalen Hurts also carried plenty of the offensive load with his legs. However, Howard should have been a more prominent check-down option for the young quarterback.
The Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins could all be looking to take a tight end in the first round, so there should be plenty of landing spots for Howard on the first day of this year’s draft.
Once he learns his NFL destination, he’ll be able to set out on a rookie campaign where he’ll try to prove he should have been targeted more during his college career.