Colorado State safety John Howell had 5.5 sacks as a senior to lead his team
Like Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers, the Buccaneers appear to be stockpiling heavy hitters.
If the Bucs' newest acquisitions, safety John Howell and cornerback Dwight Smith, are as punishing on the field as the team hopes, Tampa Bay's secondary could be another Murderer's Row.
Smith was picked up in the third round accompanied by comparisons to the Bucs' Ronde Barber. Now, along comes Howell, the team's fourth round pick and, according to the Buccaneers' scouting department, a hitter in the mold of Pro Bowler John Lynch.
"You couldn't watch a Colorado State game last year without seeing John Howell make a big hit," said Director of College Scouting Tim Ruskell.
Howell actually plays free safety, while Lynch mans the strong side for the Buccaneers, but the Tampa Bay defense asks both of its deep men to do many of the same things. Fortunately, the Bucs' base defense, 'cover two', is the same scheme employed by CSU. In fact, the Rams actually have a specific defensive play called 'Lynch.'
Howell is more than happy to be compared to the Bucs' three-time Pro Bowler, a man many consider the fiercest tackler in the NFL.
"You know one of my idols for the past few years has been SS John Lynch and watching him play and seeing what he does on the field," said Howell after learning of his NFL destination. "His physical dominance, blitzing ability and work ethic I hope I can follow right after him. Hopefully, (I can) one day be recognized as the type of football player he is."
Howell could hardly ask for a better fit at the pro level. He's even personally familiar with Buccaneers' defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who makes frequent visits to CSU to see his son Chris, play for the Rams.
"It feels great to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and I can't wait to get started and do good things for this team," he said. "I felt like I had a little of an inside track playing at Colorado State. Monte Kiffin comes up here and it's the exact same defense we run at Colorado State so it's a dream come true."
At Colorado State, Howell was an all-Mountain West Conference first-team selection in his senior season after posting 93 tackles, two interceptions and six passes defensed. Despite playing safety, he was the Rams' sack leader with 5.5 QB takedowns.
For his career, Howell racked up 233 tackles, two forced fumbles, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed and nine sacks.