Tight end O.J. Howard was the Bucs' first pick in 2017 NFL Draft. He unexpectedly fell to number 19 and while the Bucs weren't particularly in the market for a tight end at the time, he was just too good of a player to pass up. Even now, after the team handed veteran tight end Cameron Brate a six-year contract, there was still hesitation on how Howard would be affected. Turns out, not much.
Howard and Brate tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions last season with six apiece. That's probably partially due to the fact that not only does Tampa Bay run a two tight end set more than most, it also throws to them more than most. There is plenty of room on the roster for two stellar tight ends and that's just what the Bucs have.
Howard took it upon himself this offseason to work on his blocking abilities. At 6'6" and 251 pounds, he's a big body that's capable of taking on edge defenders when he's not being utilized in the passing game. In fact, on Wednesday, I watched him stand up a defensive end in one-on-ones. Safe to say that Howard has done his blocking homework this offseason.
He's also been a human highlight reel in the passing game, too. Also, on Wednesday, Howard booked it downfield on a fade route down the left sideline. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had abandoned the pocket and rolled out to his right, seemingly veering away from Howard's side of the field. The next thing you know, Fitzpatrick absolutely launches the football across his body into Howard's waiting arms as he crosses the goal line. It was beautiful.
Howard is full of plays like that – enough that even Coach Koetter mentioned it today. Coach said he had 'five out-of-sight plays' in practice and that he thinks Howard is 'far, far ahead' of where he was at any point last year.
So basically, if you liked watching O.J. Howard on the field last year, you're going to want to watch him in training camp.