Listening to Coach Koetter and other Buccaneer rep’s, it seems like this upcoming season may be the year for OJ Howard to breakout. Drafted 19th, two drafts ago in the first round, OJ became a huge surprise to many when we somehow landed in our laps at 19. I hate to say the word fell because realistically he didn’t fall, there was just other teams with bigger needs and fell just gives us that sense of negative attention like he had done something wrong. He hadn’t.
Coming from Alabama in the SEC, OJ dominated defenses, whether it be his participation in the run game or his big-play ability in the passing game. The Buccaneers got a steal and after a decent rookie season with 6 touchdowns and 26 catches for 432 yards, OJ finished the year with some good momentum going into his second season.
While he may be known for his threatening, offensive downfield ability, the fact that he can block, and help in the run game is just as important, especially after this team drafted Ronald Jones II and is looking to revamp their ground attack. With a two tight end set including Cameron Brate who will demand attention from opposing defenses, and a home run hitting, running back in RJ2, OJ will have his chances to shine and after reminding myself of some of his plays last year, I am truly looking forward to his second season as it has been a common year for rookies to take a big step forward.
So as this next season approaches, look for a more involved OJ with a better understanding of his role and his influence on opposing defenses. With the players that Jameis has around him, he’s got to make the easy, quick decisions and give these guys the chance to make plays. With a solid run game, a possible RPO, and now a scary good tight end in OJ Howard, with his development, this team can be terrifying to plan for.