Signs Point To Howard Being Elite

January 5th, 2018


Joe touched upon this before but it’s time to refresh it.

The well-trained orangutans over the PFF tribe cobbled together some gobbledegook that Joe suspects some of his readers may find interesting.

Rookie tight end O.J. Howard generated a passer rating of 151.9 on his 36 targets this year, which is good for first among all players at the position.

First, Joe guesses that was impressive, best in all the NFL for all tight ends. But not sure what passer ratings — a grossly flawed stat if there ever was one — to receivers means, if anything, other than it justifies some nerd’s salary to slap a number on each and every friggin’ thing there is, just because.

What Joe can tell you is the sky seems to be the limit for Howard. Joe has been told by NFL suits, coaches and ex-tight ends how difficult it is for a rookie TE to shine.

Again, Joe brings the numbers of better tight ends in the league and what they did as rookies.

Travis Kelce: zero yards.
Cam Brate: 17 yards.
Delanie Walker: 30 yards.
Eric Ebron: 248 yards.
Kyle Rudolph: 249 yards.
Martellus Bennett: 283 yards.
Jimmy Graham: 356 yards.
Greg Olsen: 391 yards.
O.J. Howard: 432 yards.
Tyler Eifert: 445 yards.
Jordan Reed: 449 yards.
Zach Ertz: 469 yards.
Rob Gronkowski: 546 yards.

Now mind you Howard did this with maybe the most underrated tight end in the league already on the roster, Cam Brate. It wasn’t like Howard was the only decent tight end with the Bucs, thereby making him a more consistent target.

This Howard is going to be a good one. Hell, he already is.

37 Responses to “Signs Point To Howard Being Elite”

  1. The Buc Realist Says:

    And that was just half his game!!!! Some will wonder why DD69 had his best year this year before the injury!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. TheBucRealist Says:

    I SHOUT ALL MY COMMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Pa Privateer Says:

    He also missed games, so that number would have gone up.

  4. stinkmaster69 Says:

    love it. Need to get his signature on my #80 jersey!! all he’s gotta do is reel in the fumbles. go bucs!!

  5. Pa Privateer Says:

    If you add into his run and pass blocking, then that adds about 1500 more yards to that total in theory…….

    Did we need a TE last draft?

    Thank you Mr. Licht.

  6. darin Says:

    Dirk actually did a great job drawing up plays to get howard wide open. As much as ive dogged dirk he did draw em up for oj. Having said that its much easier when the guy is in blocking 80 percent of the time to use him as a blockimg decoy to spring him open. If dirk runs it more next year oj should be able to keep it up and do much more. Now lets hope dirk runs more n finds balance and draws up some routes so his receivers can get it in stride and make plays.

  7. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    There have been some excellent debates here on JBF about draft strategy.

    One major issue that usually comes up is….take the BPA…or address an obvious need.

    Just looking at it seems to indicate that the very best dynasties are almost always able to pick the BPA while we bottom feeders are always desperately short at one position or another and have to address need.

    Perhaps Licht thought we were already approaching “elite” status and could start taking the BPA….at least with that first pick. I tend to agree with this approach. Addressing the longer term with the BPA in the first two rounds makes sense to me…you can then address need with the remainder of the draft and FA.

    OJ is the perfect example of BPA choice over need. I’m sure you guys could come up with some DE’s or RB’s from the last draft that would have made a more significant contribution this year to the Bucs. But I don’t think anybody can argue that OJ wasn’t the very best football player available when we picked and a guy who will star for us for more than a decade.

  8. 813bucboi Says:

    never doubted his talent or the production he would bring…..just wish we could’ve seen more evans, brate, godwin and oj on the field at the same time….that’s a mismatch for everyone!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  9. Gencoimports Says:

    I would expect Howard to catch 50-75 balls next year, depite the presence of Evans, Jackson, Godwin, Brate and Humphries also on the roster.

  10. BucEmUp Says:

    They may trade brate to ensure they get the pass rushers they want

  11. tnew Says:

    Hard to believe how there is a big group of “fans” that still call this a bad draft pick.

    St. Pete, I agree on your assessment of BPA in the first two rounds. Maybe Licht learned. As good as the OJ Howard pick was, I could argue the VHIII was just as bad. I think VHIII could turn into a very solid slot corner using his short area quickness and ball skills while masking his lack of top end speed, but no way could it be argued that he was the BPA at that point in the draft. That was a total need. I’m higher on VHIII than most but I didn’t like him at that point in the draft. It has been proven out as CB is still a major need, after investing an 11 on him and catching lightning in the bottle with Grimes.

  12. Broy34 Says:

    PA privateer do u really think teams with top talent draft need. We are in a position where this year draft need matches want. Barkley and Chubb.

  13. lambchop Says:


    I think what some people don’t realize is, when you have a high draft pick in the first and second rounds, the imperative to not screw that pick up is very very high. BPA, is probably statistically shown to result in higher odds at landing an impact player. Obviously, the caveat with this is, the person(s) making the call on the draft pick have to have some football IQ. The QBs are always going to be high risk even if they are BPA. That’s just the nature of the position and the desperation of fulfilling a need at QB.

    So, I would agree with going with BPA over need in the first round at least. This is if you have a high to mid range draft pick. You can get a little more relaxed with that if you have a lower third pick in the first round. That’s why they let the worst teams pick first, there’s a higher chance they’ll get an impact player earlier in the pecking order. Teams at the bottom usually only have a handful of positions of need or are just looking for solid depth so they can experiment with Need vs BPA. Picking for need higher up could potentially lower the odds of getting an impact player if you’re passing up on the more talented players and have questionable Football IQ with the player evaluation.

  14. Lakeland Says:

    The Giants rookie TE Evan Engram had:

    64 receptions
    722 yards
    6 TDS

  15. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    I like BPA, but I think it is best used by teams that are already established competitors. The teams that pull it off? Teams that are already in the playoff hunt, so they pick toward the end of the rounds where BPA makes more sense.

    Just the same, I prefer BPA all through the draft…sort of. I like BPA at any position of need depending on active draft trend availability. By that I mean if the BPA is a DE, and the second BPA is a CB, but there won’t be a worthy CB for the next three rounds (but there will be a good DE) then you take the CB.

    Not sure I explained that clearly, but that’s how I look at it.

    That’s assuming the DE isn’t an amazing fall, like OJ was in the last draft.

  16. El_Buc941 Says:

    I hope when y’all guys say we should draft “Barkley” y’all guy sare talking about Penn State Stud RB Saquoan Barkley..

  17. Pickgrin Says:

    I’ve seen too many people this year say something like – “Licht sucks – we needed a DE in the 1st round and Jason drafted a TE which we didn’t need – Licht should be fired for not drafting a DE last year…”

    To anyone who recognizes themselves having had similar thoughts – I say to you – “Oh really – so you would rather have Taco Charlton on this team moving forward instead of OJ Howard… interesting”

  18. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Yeah Evan Engram had a solid year; but was also targetted like 8-10 times weekly. If Howard saw that action he likely puts up similar or better #s.

    But the biggest thing is Engram can’t block anyone worth a sh1t; and Howard is basically an OT running a 4.5 40

  19. SOEbuc Says:

    When Howard started coming around in the receiving game about half way through the season, his catches always seemed to be good plays for big yardage. Long slant routes off the line are perfect for him. He’s going to be targeted much more next year and I can’t wait to watch him grow even more in both blocking and receiving.

  20. Pa Privateer Says:


    I Don’t agree with either side of the Need vs BPA argument. I think it is a hybrid of both even if you have elite talent on teams. So I am not sure what you are questioning. I will state this. I cannot imagine the weight of burden on a Front Office leading up to the draft and moment a pick is decided.

    Licht has continually doubled up on positions of NEED with both a FA, UDFA and a draft pick for most years. Who you find in in FA affects your draft board. It also has to do with what talent is going to be at the draft slot. Example being that TE Howard was the highest ranked draft pick that the bucs scouted at 19. Basically he was the top of Licht’s draft board. DE Barnett, TE Njoku and SS Obiwelenofu (sp) were after that.

    Every year I put together a physics/economics problem together to predict the highest probability of what position would be addressed in each round. I tweak it every year after the draft to predict the GM reasoning for next year. I can even usually predict if the bucs will trade up I the first 2 rounds. If Joe allowed me I would share it with him. What was scary is that I predicted that if we did not choose a DE in the first round, then the percentage of a DE being drafted dropped like a rock. Literally, you could see Licht was not likely to pick a DE in the draft. You could also see that he desperately wanted a RB and WR.

    Based on the #19 pick I knew TE had the highest percentage of being the pick. SS was the second highest percentage and then DE (Barnett) was the 3rd choice in the first round.

    In the second round it was going to be SS (Obimelenofu or Evans), WR Godwin or RB. A DE in the 2nd round was only considered after a those 3 positions.

    3rd round: Licht wanted a RB or WR more than any other position. As a matter of fact he wanted an OG more than a DE in the 3rd round.

    I could go on and on but I am just getting excited about the Draft.

  21. rrsrq Says:

    @ Lakeland,

    Engram got those targets because OBJ was out all year, not taking anything away from him, because he did what he was supposed to do, make the most of it. Outside af the fumbles, which we all know is correctable, OJ did not disappoint, DK did when he made him invisible for multiple games. No reason he should not have been used more in the end zone when we were in the red zone. Pats don’t use Gronk as a decoy, they get him the ball.

  22. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    Agree with your assessment of our defensive backfield. Sometimes I get greedy for that quick fix. Does Talib scare you as a free agent? I’m assuming you hope we resign Grimes. We’d really be strong at corner with VHG…McClain and the young guys backing it all up.

  23. Pickgrin Says:

    Interesting thoughts Pa Privateer – but I don’t understand the Barnett talk. He was picked at #14 so never an option for us. If Howard had gone earlier and Barnett dropped to #19- Barnett would have almost certainly been the pick. But as I said before – Taco was the “best” DE left on the board at that time so the OJ Howard pick was pretty much a no brainer.

    You left off a couple names as well. I know for sure that the Bucs were VERY high on Budda Baker and also loved Kareem Hunt in the 3rd. But this last draft truly was all about BPA and value. Baker was not a good “value” at #19 even if OJ had not been available. Howard’s value at #19 was off the charts as the Bucs had OJ rated among the top 5-7 players at any position as did many other teams. Hunt would have been a Buccaneer if Godwin (who the Bucs had rated significantly higher than Hunt) had not slipped all the way to #84.

  24. sj_bucsfan Says:

    I realize the Bucs need help with the O-line and blocking & protection, but I do believe Howard’s receiving skills were way under utilized. It also seemed that when OJ was used in that manner successfully, Koetter seemed to abandon the use of him! As it seemed that happened with most things that worked this season…

  25. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I also agree with BPA in the early rounds within reason.

    You could argue that TE was a position of need since we cut ASJ and our top TE is a UDFA……and doesn’t block that well.

    BPA is great within reason……and example would be if the BPA was a TE next year….then, you pass.

    We could be facing a difficult decision next year if for example Barkley & Chubb are on the board when we pick…..both are needs and both could be BPA at their respective positions. I’m sure someone would argue with that but many will agree……Who do we take?
    My answer is….I doubt we make a mistake with either.
    Yea, yea, yea… say neither will be there……but Howard was there at 19 last year…..anything can happen in the early picks.

  26. Mike Johnson Says:

    I feel so sorry for many of you. We lose consistently by not having a Defense Yet..You talk of drafting a RB with our 1st pick. Then we we are losers again next year you say…Where is our Defense? You guys been losers so long you don’t even want to see what is needed for us to start winning. PITYFUL Lot..All of you!!

  27. Pa Privateer Says:

    @ Pickgrin

    Thank you for being civil about the draft talk. I agree that Baker was on the board. Let me explain the process a little more. Statement: favorite players influence is hard to ignore in the process.

    I started with focusing on the amount of contact the Bucs had with individual players. From there I labelled the players ranking based on everyone’s general agreement. From there I used those ranking to organize a chart. I then compared the player the Bucs were interested in, with what day their ranking put them to be drafted. That gave me the scenario of which position and players licht was targeting at on each day and round.

    Example: In the 1st round Licht was interested in TEs and SS/FS more than the other positions based on our draft slot. Howard fell to 19 and Licht pounced.

    Interesting note which will make Joe happy. The Bucs front office scouted more RBs and WRs than any other positions before the draft. Most of those were ranked on Day 2 picks. The DEs ranked 3rd in scouting, but their ranking were scattered all over the place and no round (pick #) focused on DEs.

    Basically what I am saying is you can almost predict which positions Licht will go after in each round (excluding players falling)

    Licht focused on TE, SS, WR and RB in the first 3 rounds the most. And the 2017 Bucs draft gave us TE, SS, and WR.

    I will try to post more in the draft season to explain the focus vs a favorite player.

  28. unbelievable Says:

    1 word:


  29. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Two Words


  30. Pickgrin Says:

    PA – Licht was smart in focusing on those positions early. WR was a “need” but TE, Safety and RB were major strengths in this draft. We came very close to drafting those positions in that order as well. Hunt would have been a Buc if not for Godwin (a legit late 1st round talent) falling so far.

    I believe in the long run Godwin will have a more productive NFL career than Hunt – hope so anyway. I wanted Godwin in the 2nd and was super high on Hunt as a 3rd rounder for the Bucs.

    I would like to see major focus on DL and also an OL pick or 2 (maybe even a LT at #1) in this years draft along with a 3rd or 4th round RB. We need a CB as well but hopefully can find one in FA and also need to re-sign Grimes.

  31. lambchop Says:


    Evan Engram is solid, but he was probably the 1st or 2nd option in that offense after OBJ went down. He was still productive as defenses could zero in on him so I don’t want to say his numbers were inflated, but Juice was more like the 3rd or 4th option on most plays where he wasn’t blocking. So, the opportunities and the play calling was limited for him most of the season. They are both going to be solid TEs for a long time coming, but I like how Juice is the more complete TE. More bang for the Buc. We had the luxury of drafting a complete TE with Brate being more of a pass catching TE. Although, I can see Brate improving his blocking if they need him in that role. This is going to be what Gronk/Hernandez should have been.

    Comparing stats is really an apples to oranges thing. I don’t like stats without context.

  32. loggedontosay Says:


    You do realize that one pperformer can amass 50 yards and another can amass 100 yards. It is possible that the 50 yard performer was better. You must consider all the evidence and discriminate to rule out the biasness from the population.

  33. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Most of us thought he’d be elite at some point. Howard isn’t there yet, but he will be. And yes, rookies TE’s generally don’t produce their rookie season. It is a hard position to learn in the NFL. Consider that Howard missed his last two games, and spent most of the first half of the season blocking while Brate got most of the routes and he still wasn’t that far behind Gronk is impressive.

  34. feelthepewterpower Says:

    I think Licht hit a grandslam this draft…but time will tell. Though, the early indications are that Howard, Evans, Godwin, and Beckwith will be studs.

  35. feelthepewterpower Says:

    BTW, I think Howard will be much more valuable than Kamara (even though Kamara will win rookie of the year) going forward…

  36. Rod Munch Says:

    Regardless of the stats you can just watch OJ play can tell he’s special. The two most difficult positions for rookies to play in the NFL is TE and S, and the Bucs spent their top two picks on a TE and a S – and after a slow start by J Evans he started to figure it out in the 2nd half of the year. BUT OJ, if Brate wasn’t on the team he’d have been a day 1 starter and probably would have doubled his numbers. With that said having Brate and OJ together means more than the combined numbers.

  37. BucTrooper Says:

    I remember very specifically Joe using the term “elite” in a headline, “Jonathan Banks on the Cusp Of Elite.”

    So the term is tossed around without regard.