When Alabama TE O.J Howard announced via Twitter last January he would be returning to the school for his senior season, he immediately figured to be a large part of the Crimson Tide’s offense as they looked for their second-straight national title. Especially after former teammates A’Shawn Robinson and Derrick Henry left school early to go to the NFL.
Howard’s final year in an Alabama jersey has been worthwhile, as he’s caught a career-high 41 passes for 489 yards and two touchdowns. The extra year has helped the 6-foot-6, 251-pound tight end get some of the spotlight from NFL scouts as the 2017 NFL Draft nears.
According to NFL.com, one scout said Howard is similar to Seattle Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham:
He’s arguably the best tight end in the class. His upside and potential are great. A very, very good athlete who’s still learning the tricks of the trade. He’s also a better blocker than people give him credit for.
The frame and ability of Howard is similar to Grahams, and his ability to spend time in the slot makes him a good target for NFL teams. Over his four seasons at Alabama, he’s improved a lot of his raw skills, such as blocking.
Howard came to Alabama as a five-star recruit and saw action as a true freshman in 2013. Last season, he was named the offensive MVP in the Crimson Tide’s National Championship game victory Clemson.
Howard caught five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
An early mock draft by Bleacher Report has Howard going No. 24 overall in the first round to the Oakland Raiders.
Check here for the latest updates on Howard’s stock as the combine and draft near.