General Manager Jason Licht was admittedly surprised when O.J. Howard was on the board when the Buccaneers were set to make their first-round draft pick on Thursday night. He called it a "pipe dream" to land a player projected as high as No. 5 in some mock drafts, while Head Coach Dirk Koetter referred to it as a "nice little late-night present."
And, of course, Jameis Winston was excited to add Howard to his arsenal. He should be. Winston now has two Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, along with Cameron Brate, who was tied for the NFL-lead in touchdown receptions a year ago, and the best tight end in the 2017 draft class. As Scott Smith pointed out, all four players could be on the field at the same time in the Bucs' "12 personnel."
Howard knows just how potent the Bucs' offense could be in 2017 and relishes the opportunity to be a part of it.
"I am just very happy I got a chance to go to (the Bucs)," Howard said during a conference call after being selected by the Buccaneers at No. 19, "that's a loaded offense, so I am very excited about that."
At 6-foot-6, Howard is another big-bodied red zone target for Winston, along with Evans. Howard knows that the pair will be difficult to defend.
"I think it's going to be a huge advantage for tall guys," Howard said of playing with Evans. "It gives us a chance to make plays. Jameis can throw it up, let us make plays. That sounds very exciting."
Whether or not Howard is the Bucs' "starter" will be determined during the offseason program and training camp. He is a strong blocker, whereas Brate thrives in the passing game. Either way, both players will see the field often. No matter the split in reps, the Buccaneers' offense got much more dangerous on Thursday night.