Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Dalvin Cook And George Kittle

April 20th, 2023

Tremendous value.

NFL general managers often reference value when assessing players.

If a general manager gets a decent starter with a third-day draft pick, that’s value. Hit on a few of those, and pretty soon you’ve got a damn good club.

Over at Football Outsiders, Vincent Verhei decided to take a look at the 2017 draft and see how it shook out. It was a notorious draft for the Bucs. That’s because one of the biggest draft mistakes the Bucs ever made happened in the first round.

Then-Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was infatuated with Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. So much so he begged Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht for Howard in the first round. And he got him.

It was, at best, a luxury pick and big-time misguided. The Bucs already had a tight end, Cam Brate, who was coming off a Pro Bowl-worthy season.

At the same time, the team had a gaping, crying hole at running back. Koetter got his wish and we all know the sad history. Howard was barely starter quality and was at best a hit-or-miss tight end.

For every excellent play he made, Howard made up for it by trying to do a Magic Johnson behind-the-back dribble only to fumble the ball.

Fun times.

Sadly, on one of his rare touchdowns, he blew out his Achilles in 2020 and was never the same.

We all know who the Bucs should have drafted. Joe lost a ton of sleep over it. But it’s water under the bridge. Joe’s over it. The Bucs won a Super Bowl. Running back Dalvin Cook and the Vikings have not.

Scoreboard: Bucs.

(Fun story: A Bucs employee at the end of the night Howard was drafted texted Joe and asked if Joe was OK. Sure, why? Well, the Bucs employee told Joe that the look on Joe’s face, when Howard’s name was announced and not Cook’s, made him think Joe was going to cry.)

Why is Joe bringing all of this up? Well, Football Outsiders named a guy the Bucs drafted two rounds after Howard as one of the best value picks in the draft. That would be Pro Bowl receiver Chris Godwin.

Best Value

Close call here. You could go with Chris Godwin (84th, Tampa Bay) over Cooper Kupp, who was taken with the 69th pick. Godwin is your silver medalist for best receiver in this draft class, ranking second behind Kupp with 446 catches for 5,666 yards and 32 scores. But though he does have a Super Bowl ring, Godwin hasn’t done much in the postseason, with a 26-317-1 statline in five games. We would rather have Cooper Kupp even if he did go 15 spots earlier.

Well, two reasons Godwin hasn’t piled up large postseason numbers: the Bucs didn’t need that from him and he dropped a bunch of passes against Washington. Oh, yeah, and he was also on injured reserve in the 2021 season playoffs.

Joe recalls Godwin making a couple of truly clutch  catches against the Packers in the NFC title game, and a nice catch in the Super Bowl.

But yeah, Godwin was one helluva selection by Licht.

And if Koetter really needed a tight end that badly (he didn’t), there was value in a sleeper from Iowa in the fifth round named George Kittle.

18 Responses to “Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard, Dalvin Cook And George Kittle”

  1. Leopold Stotch Says:

    Well I don’t remember where I heard it from, probably from this here site, but Koetter did not like rookie rbs. Once he left Atlanta, Devonta Freeman had an out of this world season (I remember I picked him off waivers in fantasy, carried my freaking team). The following year RoJo was drafted and barely saw the light of day and was ruined mentally for a bit. So even though it was a need, I definitely see why we didn’t draft a stud rb at the time.

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I think overall that Chris Godwin is Licht’s best draft pick…..considering it was a 3rd round pick and Godwin’s proven record…..a big winner.
    2nd for me would be Ali Marpet.

  3. Beej Says:

    Pfft. We had Peyton Barber, why draft an rb?

  4. Goatfarmer Says:

    Love our Chris Godwin. Of course Cooper Kupp is special also. Too bad Tod Bowels never heard of him.

  5. Tim Says:

    Antoine Winfield Jr. Great pick.

  6. Dooley Says:

    We drafted Kendall Beckwith at the end of the 3rd after picking Godwin at the top of the round. Iirc we traded a 4th and swapped another 4th to get back into the 3rd in 2017 to pick Beckwith who was looking like a good pick before the car crash. We drafted Justin Evans that year too

  7. Infomeplease Says:

    It’s easier to evaluate players 4 or 5 years down the road! Hopefully the Bucs can nail 3 or so picks this year. That sure would help!

  8. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Howard obviously hasn’t had the impact Dalvin Cook has had on NFL, but Howard was a good player who was having an excellent season in 2020 before the achilles injury. The Bucs certainly missed his run game blocking last year

  9. Alexandre Nascimento Says:

    OJ Howard blew out his Achilles on the Ke’Shawn Vaughn TD, not after scoring his TD

  10. SlyPirate Says:

    At the time, OJ was considered the steal of the draft.

    OJ put up something like 160 and 200 yards in back to back national championship games. He was a ridiculous talent who performed on the biggest stage. Cook had a ton of red flags for character issues.

    Pull up your articles, Joe. I’d like to see you prove it. This is revisionist history, I-told-you-so, BS. You loved the pick as did we all.

  11. Joseph C Simmons Says:

    I wanted Cook, too, but when the 19th pick came up I agreed with the OJ Howard pick. And if it weren’t for the injury, he may have become something. That first year with Brady, he was starting to look special.

    After the injury, apparently, he became ‘just a guy’.

  12. westernbuc Says:

    At the time it looked like the steal of the draft. Just shows that “potential” is worthless

  13. Brandon Says:

    OJ was a stud prospect and Cook was a RB…. it was the right pick at the time. Cook had questions about his shoulders, his circle of friends, staying around those friends in Florida, and his position.

  14. sasquatch Says:

    Let’s remember, the Bucs weren’t the only team who liked OJ Howard. He was very highly rated, considered a very “clean” prospect with a high floor and high ceiling. He wouldn’t have been any less of a disappointment if someone else had taken him a few picks later.

    What were the reasons for his failure? He showed signs of being a productive player early on, then he kinda leveled off and the the achilles took him down. Was it all circumstance that went wrong for him? I don’t know, but the post-mortems discussions in NFL front offices on why certain draft picks busted is something I’d like to hear. Gotta do some opposition scouting of your own draft processes.

  15. FairMinded Says:

    Godwin has been a godsend. No one plays harder so he helps set that tone on field. But what I remember most from watching his highlights after the draft, was how much his teammate at Penn State Saquon Barkley (one year his junior so next draft class) stood out. That dude was and is an absolute freak. We should try to grab him somehow. I know…wishful thinking

  16. Rand Says:

    The revisionist always want to roast the Bucs. As I remember O.J. Howard was a coveted highly sought after tight end whose upside was graded out very high by the so-called experts. That could have easily been a brilliant pick as well if Howard were everything the experts were claiming he would be.

    Also at the same time I was saying that Godwin was a great value pick and was upset about the low grade people were giving Licht on our draft because they felt Godwin wasn’t worthy of a 3rd round pick. I argued with so many armchair GM’s who was dissing that pick.

  17. unbelievable Says:

    Koetter didn’t like rookies at any position… Howard was barely even used by him.

    And to be fair, a lot of people (myself included), thought OJ Howard was going to be the next Gronk, except even faster. Unfortunately, his heart never matched up with his physical talent. And then came the achilles…

  18. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Can’t believe kittle was a 5th rd pick. That guy is a stud