Keyshawn Johnson: O.J. Howard Is Better Than Rob Gronkowski

May 17th, 2020

The Bucs’ go-to receiver during their Super Bowl season, Keyshawn Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, isn’t crazy impressed by the Buccaneers signing Rob Gronkowski.

Keyshawn works for ESPN these days, including as a daily sports radio morning host in Los Angeles.

When the Bucs signed Gronkowski, Keyshawn was adamant on ESPN Radio that defenses won’t shake in their pants and will wait to see exactly what Gronkowski looks like in Bucco Bruce Arians’ system before they start game-planning for him. He’ll have to earn back a lot of respect, Keyshawn said, because Gronkowski looked like a shell of himself during the 2018 season before his retirement.

But perhaps most interesting was Keyshawn putting his foot down insisting O.J. Howard is a better player now than Gronkowski, and the Bucs just need to figure out how to maximize him.

Keyshawn was adamant that Howard is better and the Bucs would be fools to not use him and Gronk in the red zone. The mismatches created would be there every time for Tom Brady to exploit, he added.

Keyshawn is not concerned about what Brady will bring to the Bucs, saying he’ll do a hell of a cleanup job from the messy play of Jameis Winston, but he thinks there will be too much adjustment required for the Bucs to peak under Brady in 2020. So Keyshawn thinks it’s a two-year plan in a tough NFC, one that will require Brady to keep the Fountain of Youth flowing for two more seasons.

56 Responses to “Keyshawn Johnson: O.J. Howard Is Better Than Rob Gronkowski”

  1. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    Ah that vaunted OJ Howard potential again. I am going to have a hard disagree with him here. OJ just isn’t anywhere near as physically dominating. if he was he would be a perennial all pro player.

  2. Carl Nicks' big toe Says:

    And Mike Evans is better than Keyshawn Johnson. See, I can do that too. Seriously though, the only one’s opinion that really matters here is Touchdown Tommy’s, cuz he’s already gonna want to throw to Gronk.

    If OJ wants to be a big part of this offense, he better play than he’s ever played up to this point, because he’s competing against Evans, Godwin, Brate and Gronk, along with whatever touches the RB’s get.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Tell him to stop whatever he’s smoking, a first round draft pick that hasn’t proved himself?

  4. Afo Says:

    OJ Howard is not even better than Brate

  5. FanO’Bucs Says:

    I’ll believe Howard is a great player only when he plays consistent like a great player.

  6. Joe in Michigan Says:

    We’ll see if O.J. learns some things from Gronk this year. Consistency, concentration, and better blocking are all musts if he expects to be as good as Gronk in his prime.

  7. Bucsfan951 Says:

    My opinion is that oj Howard is done in Tampa. They couldn’t move him this year and they’re gonna try to move him from now until next years draft. Their asking price must be too much! If need be, they’ll try their best (obviously the ball has to go his way) to pump his numbers up so they can get more for him.

    Again, it’s my opinion and I’ve been drinking crown and cokes all day long! 😉

  8. T REX Says:

    Insert pic of chris rock pookie smoking a crack pipe.

  9. adam from ny Says:

    oj howard works at tropicana field…

    he fetches balls for the rays…

    am i correct?…knock on wood if you’re with me 🙂

  10. adam from ny Says:

    i’m gonna go out on a limb here…

    if oj has a good season and fits in nicely to what they’re doing, there is a chance cam is gone…

    and if cam is gone…

    and jameis’ stock increases in new orleans, there is a high probability peyton tries to bring cam to new orleans…

    peyton definitely like cam…

    remember we stole him off their practice squad…

    he blossomed with the bucs and had great chemistry with jameis…

    basically we can’t let him go back to new orleans with jameis in the future…

    it can’t help us at all in the division battles…

    just sayin’

  11. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Saints signed cam to their practice squad AFTER the Bucs cut him. Then Bucs signed him to their active roster from the saints practice squad

  12. Bucsfanman Says:

    Howard has done NOTHING to show he’s “better than Gronk”.
    On top of being a jerk, Keyshawn has no idea what he’s talking about.

  13. ncbucsfan Says:

    OJ is NOT better than Gronk! OJ DOES have more talent than Gronk at this point. His football IQ and awareness is just trash right now and that is way more important in games. Hopefully Gronk teaches him something….or better yet, hopefully OJ has enough humility to submit 2020 to being Gronks apprentice!

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I don’t agree with Keyshawn but it really doesn’t matter…..we don’t need 3 top tight ends…….Brate & Howard really didn’t get much action last year and now we have one more…..
    The $10 mil would have been better served by adding a Veteran Safety & a Quality backup Pass Rusher…..but what’s done is done.

    The wild card here is how having Gronk will make Brady feel…..if it pumps him up then he’s worth it.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Can’t believe how negative everyone is BEFORE they even see Gronk & OJ play this year with Tom Brady. BOTH have a lot to prove this year if they expect to be with the Bucs in 2021. So does Cam.

    Keyshawn’s point that Gronk will have to earn back respect from other teams BEFORE they start game-planning against him is valid … for Gronk, for OJ and for Cam. RESPECT has to be earned. Let’s hold off on the coronation for a little bit.

  16. Bruce Blahak Says:

    Tell MeShawn that McCardell is/was better than him. Should start some fireworks, the whiny punk….

  17. Ocala Says:

    Ridiculous comment…OJ Howard is athletically elite but so far he’s not good.
    He’s been a below average NFL tight end. Gronkowski is the best TE in NFL history.

  18. AwShbucs Says:

    Keyshawn still talking out 9f his bungus I see.

  19. Matt Says:

    Lmao Meshawn has lost his privilege of talking anything Buccaneers for at least the rest of the offseason. Howard isn’t a bad player he’s just too muscle bound to be a good receiver. He blocks well and shows he cares when he makes mistakes so his heart is in it. I just think Winston lost faith in him last year from some of the silly turnovers. Winston would always get Howard the ball in weird windows and not in normal rhythm and Howard never looked comfortable. Howard will have a solid year this year but he’s nowhere near the player Gronk is that is laughable. Send Oj up the seems and on screens and he’ll be Lethal!!! Imagine Oj and Gronk running double seems lol!!! It’s not even fair.

  20. Hodad Says:

    Gronk is going to the hall of fame. Keysawn isn’t, and neither is O.J.. Gronk now on his worst day, is better then O.J. on his best day. Look, I like O.J.. But the fact is he didn’t even dominate in college. He’s got all the tools, but he’s not lived up to his draft status. We thought he was a first round steal, he should’ve been a third round steal. I hope Tom gets the best out of him. Key saying he isn’t being used right is just BS. He’s had good coaching between Dirk, and B.A., he just doesn’t have that it factor on game days.

  21. BigHog Says:

    What he saying is that Gronk ain’t that guy anymore, what made Gronk was the total package…being able to line up outside, set the edge with monster blocks at tight end, and being able to pull out and get down field on outside running plays and his red zone play, that was Gronk…Gronk ain’t that no more, it’s as simple as that! My hope will is that Gronk can get some of that mental toughness to wear her face on Howard!

  22. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    He might LOOK like a better player but he plays like JANE!

  23. m0j0 Says:

    Point is we don’t need OJ to be better than Gronk or vice versa. We just need them to fit in and produce and do what they do best. OJ is better running downfield than blocking, so with Gronk now they can send OJ out on routes more frequently, which is good for him and his skill set. And Gronk can be more of the focus down inside the red zone.

  24. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Gronk’s last game vs Rams in SB 2019:

    6 catches 87 yards, including key play in 4th quarter to help Pats win-

    If that’s a shell of himself, imagine a healed up , rested Gronk.

  25. Tom Edrington Says:

    Me-Shawn…….still full of crap!

  26. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Nothing Keyshawn Johnson says matters to me unless he admits how selfish and self-centered he was.

    A total locker room issue.

  27. adam from ny Says:

    keyshawn makes poor decisions…

    he often wears sneakers with his tapered suits…

    nothing more need be said

  28. Bradybru Says:

    OJ has a lot of talent, the question has also been when will he tap into the potential when he has been given opportunities. Gronkowski is 100% all up nothing but talent. He taps into it and always lives up to his potential whether he plays hurt or not. I don’t see that motivation from a Howard.

  29. Marine Buc Says:

    What Keyshawn is really saying is:

    Gronk has had the GOAT throwing to him his whole career. OJ has had the Saints third string QB throwing to him. Let’s see how OJ does with a real QB.

    That is the translation I’m getting from this comment…

  30. Bradybru Says:

    Go bucs

  31. Bradybru Says:

    Ok I won’t post in here anymore, and by the way since your censoring my posts you should play fair Hundreds of commenters are in some form of moderation. –Joe and do same with the others that you have a issue with who go against your favorites. But you will probably post this. Right

  32. SOEbuc Says:

    Not at all. I have

  33. Erik Hesson - Fine Artist - City of St Pete Says:

    Gruden had to install an entirely new offense, and we were clicking and Rolling by the end of Year 1…

    We are winning it All this season, Bucs fans.

    (If Brady stays healthy)

  34. Wesley Says:

    I agree with him. Arians must utilize this man! And most of you way exaggerate his drops

  35. Al da pewter King Says:

    I know people want only believe the public media perception of a player but OJ is actually pretty good when targeted more. Yards per catch is up there with The best in the league.

  36. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    Keyshawn meant to say “POTENTIALLY, O.J. Howard is better than Rob Gronkowski.”

  37. Nick Says:

    Consider the source, the guy has always been an idiot.

  38. BucEmUp Says:

    o.j is like a child in amans body.All the pgsical talent in the world but doesnt want to put the work or wait his turn.

  39. BrooklynBucsFan Says:

    I’m really excited to see all the receiving weapons this year. One thing Brady definitely still has is his elite ball placement. I suspect that will lead to easier catches for all the receivers and I’d imagine the teams YAC will rise dramatically. Which will help mitigate the likelihood that Brady throws fewer deep passes. I suspect OJ will benefit by having easier catches and being hit in stride will really allow his athleticism to be a bigger factor. Obviously, it’s ridiculous To suggest he’s better than Gronk, but Keshawn has always been a bit foolish and a contrarian. But OJs upside is incredible and he’s about to play with a QB that is great with TEs. If he can’t break out with TB12 throwing to him, then he probably won’t ever.

  40. stpetebucsfan Says:


    Here’s another wild card. What if Gronk somehow mentors OJ and helps him reach his “potential”.

    If we must part with a TE after this year I hope we trade them out of our division.

  41. Allbuccedup Says:

    Gronk 74 pff grade Howard 54 pff grade.

  42. Samuel Says:

    I think K. Johnson assessment is fair. The Bucs will have to make some adjustments. It’s probably a two year plan. The NFC South is a very competitive division. Brady will soon find that out.

  43. Carter Says:

    I’m not saying he’s better than Gronk, but if Howard
    had Mahomes, Brees or even Matt Ryan throwing to
    Him he’d be a Top 3 TE. Having an offensive
    coordinator who knows how to use him makes all
    the difference…

  44. Carter Says:

    Bucs should trade Howard to the Chiefs or Packers and I bet hell be starting I the pro bowl next year. Having a competent OC would skyrocket his career. They owe him after wasting his talent!

  45. David Says:

    I agree with all of it except on OJ… he has not proven anything yet.
    I also hope he’s wrong about 2 year plan just because of the SB location but it makes sense v

  46. Jim Says:

    Howard’s greatness is in his first name

  47. 2020 Year of the GOAT Says:

    Keyshawn Johnson is talking shiiittttzz !!!

  48. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Unlike many here, I don’t feel OJ has regressed at all.

    I think his stats have suffered because he was used primarily as a blocker due to the weak RT we had who was past his prime.

    I imagine OJs stats might continue to suffer until our new tackle settles in, but it’s far too soon to claim he’s failing when he’s doing what he is told to do. Once he isn’t needed as much as a blocker, his stats will get better.

    And, btw, the stories that the Bucs shopped him were never sourced, so they can’t be considered factual.

  49. BringBucsBack Says:

    “MeShaun is wrong about Gronk.”

    -2019 Patriots Offense

  50. MTM Says:

    I wonder what would make Meshawn say that? Gronk is much better than Howard at this time.

  51. Capt.Tim Says:

    Gronk, Brate, Auclair, Howard
    And Hudson is pushing Howard.
    The only Reason Howard is on the field, is because he was a first round pick.
    The kid blocks lackadaisically. He doesnt look for the ball. He doesnt focus on the DBs, often running himself in to covage.
    The guy looks like he needs a nap, most plays.

    Brady will chase Howard off the field, if we havent traded Howard by training camp

  52. Ron Says:

    I think what your going to see from Gronk this year is going to be some of his best football, he is still a young person who is very gifted and has a lot of experience. The decline you saw from him wasn’t from just physically being beat up but mentally and emotionally, some people are wired differently and I believe he has had time to heal and refocus. Now O.J. has a great opportunity to show his physical gifts with a Quarterback who if he trust him will use him and get the most out of him and he has the best TE in the game to learn from, him wanted to leave this situation would be foolish. His value will be determined by what he does in this year coming and the way that he embraces this situation and he may find that the way that use him will benefit him the rest of his career.

  53. Christian Leckert Says:

    I like both of them. OJ has the big play ability, and Gronk is reliable. Who they should really be excited to have receiving from Brady is Mike Evans. Big target. Just read on a facts page he tied Randy Moss for most seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards to begin a career. This offense is gonna be special.

  54. Realbuc1 Says:

    Most of you guys sound like Pat fans instead of Buc supporters. In 2017 you were probably hating on Brady and Gronk now they can do no wrong really? Gronk has been away from football for a year he’s out of shape and even in shape he’s older and slower than the much younger OJ. Gronk is overrated point blank he was a good player we will see if he still is but his greatness was because Tom took advantage of his the mismatches he caused. I love the but JW and didn’t do the same in Tampa last year or most you would be singing a different time. OJ is better because he’s younger and faster and Gronk is well past his prime due to the year off pretending he was a cast member on the Jersey Shore

  55. GQ-Smooth Says:

    You all don,t know what you got in the Brady,gronk dou? Howard has nothing but learning to do from gronk? but with Brady throwing him the ball instead of pick six Jamieson,his career will be as great as gronks.go gronk ,but go pats

  56. Realbuc1 Says:

    GQ I agree with you 100% the Brady/Gronk duo will be a problem for the rest of the league. My whole point and problem is Gronk shows up and now everyone wants again jumps on a ban wagon and dumps on an extremely talented kid. Not taking any consideration for JW play last year which was great if you cut the picks in halve or the fact that BA has never utilized a TE in his coaching career he’s the QB whisperer or more aptly put TE killer. If leads to wins and rings ok but don’t blame for the coaches decisions. It will be different this year because Brady love his TE’s and if Gronk wasn’t here you would finally have seen why Howard was worthy of a first round pick.