NFL Hot Press: Scouts Compare O.J. Howard to Julius Thomas

Scouts Compare O.J. Howard to Julius Thomas

Updated Sept. 10, 2015
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

One of the most acclaimed freshman in the country during the 2013 season was Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. He hauled in 14 passes for 269 yards (19.2 average) with two touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound Howard flashed a ton of potential to be a NFL receiving tight end with speed and athleticism. Many felt that Howard was just scratching the surface of his potential.

As a sophomore, Howard had a disappointing season with only 17 receptions for 260 yards. New offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin proved at USC with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee that he settles on one receiver and struggles to call plays for anyone else regardless of their talent or mismatch potential. Last year in Alabama, that receiver was Amari Cooper. Still, sources felt that Howard didn’t play up to his potential and didn’t receive as much playing time as one would have thought.

NFL scouts we’ve spoken to say that they like Howard’s potential for the next level, but they want him to show improvement as a junior. Sources say that Howard is a sloppy route-runner and needs to improve his blocking, but he is an intriguing athlete who could be a dynamic receiving tight end. They feel that his game is very similar to Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas. After a few years as a backup, Thomas broke out for the Broncos after refining his game.

Sources said that Howard looks like he gained some weight over the offseason and has worked to improve his run blocking. If Howard shows three-down ability while being a better blocker and route-runner, his stock could rise significantly for the 2016 NFL Draft.

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