O.J. Howard: Quietly Primed For Breakout Year

It’s that time of the year again, all NFL fans are buzzing because football is about to be back. NFL training camps are beginning across the league as the dog days of summer approach. The Buffalo Bills, led by superstar quarterback Josh Allen, are this year’s betting favorites to win the Super Bowl. In a sense, it seems like Lombardi or bust for this Bills team. To capture that elusive Super Bowl win, the Bills will need many of their young players to step up. Luckily for them, they have many primed for breakouts years. An under-the-radar candidate for a breakout season is newly acquired tight end, O.J. Howard.  

Howard In Tampa Bay 

O.J. Howard is a tight end who spent the first five years of his career in Tampa Bay. Howard is a former first-round pick of the Buccaneers, in 2017. Unfortunately, he never lived up to his hype. He won a national championship at Alabama and was regarded as one of the best tight-end prospects entering the NFL in a while. It just never pieced together for him, and Howard dealt with a middle-of-the-pack team early in his career.

After two years, The Buccaneers would sign Rob Gronkowski, to pair with his buddy Tom Brady. It forced Howard to take a back seat after a productive first few seasons. Howard fell even further back on the depth charts and was eventually the tight end three, behind Gronk and Cameron Brate. The whole situation was just odd. The Buccaneers’ new coaching staff was fine with letting a former top 20 pick just not play, even though he did well when given the chance. The Bucs even picked up his fifth-year option, yet he still didn’t get to play. 

Howard By the Numbers  

Howard posted a very good first two seasons in the NFL, with a combined 997 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. In the three seasons since then, Howard has a combined 59 receptions, 740 yards and only four touchdowns. In college, Howard posted a career stat line of 114 receptions, 1,726 yards, 15.1 yards-per-catch, and seven touchdowns. Howard was a huge piece in Alabama football continuing their historical dominance. He helped bring home a national championship for them. Howard has proven he can play at both levels; he just needs the chance.  

Why Howard can Breakout With the Buffalo Bills  

The first chance Howard got, he left Tampa Bay and headed for a new team this off-season. Howard signed a 1-year $3.5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills and will step into one of the best, and most pass-heavy offenses in the league. He will be the tight end two behind the Bills’ breakout player from last season, Dawson Knox. It seems like Howard will get much play as it is being rumored the Bills want to run more two tight end sets, under new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.

In an appearance on WGR 550, Howard said when talking about his decision to come to the Buffalo Bills, “When I knew what was on the roster and Josh Allen at the helm, it was a no brainer.” Dawson Knox has missed time with injuries every year he’s been in the league (going into year 4). So, the likelihood of Howard getting a shot as the top tight end is there. Even as the tight end two, he will get his opportunities. If he has a big year, he could land a big payday from a team next off-season. Money is the motivation. The 6’6” tight end brings size to a relatively short receiving core and paired with the playmaking Josh Allen, could be a matchup nightmare in the redzone for opposing teams. 

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