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Alabama NFL Draft Prospects

Never overlook people: Howard will transition to the NFL level just fine

Cedric Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

NFL Draft scouts are already saying O.J. Howard is too big and fast to fail for the Crimson Tide once he finished his career there. After posting a time of 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, there’s a lot to be excited about with the gifts this young man possesses at 6-6 and 250 pounds.

What’s very surprising heading into the draft is how under utilized he was at Alabama.

He posted a bowl record of five receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the 2016 College Football Playoff national title game against Clemson, yet the Tide rarely targeted Howard during the regular season.

With him putting up stats like these on the playoff stage in 2015 and 2016, it makes college football fans and die hard Alabama fans wonder why Nick Saban didn’t involve Howard more in the passing game. The game of football has evolved so much over the years. Not only that, the athletes in this generation we live in are bigger and faster than ever before.

NFL teams from the 70’s and 80’s believed in running the football down other teams throats, but now that’s not the case in today’s gridiron action. There are tight ends moving like running backs, wide receivers weighing 225+ pounds running like they’re 170 pounds, and defensive ends weighing 290 pounds that play and react like defensive backs.

Howard is going first round for two reasons:

1.) He’s very explosive

2.) He’s an Alabama product coached by Saban who’s one of the best coaches in the game of college football

Even though he was used as a blocking tight end at Alabama under Saban’s system, I don’t see him blocking the rest of his life in the NFL once he’s drafted. Howard moves way too well for a tight end his size. Maybe he can be a hybrid slot receiver at times?

The 250-pounder runs fluid routes, he comes out of his breaks smoothly, he’s a matchup nightmare for any defender, and has glue hands. Howard led the Tide with an average of 15.8 yards per reception last season.

He has the vision, agility, acceleration and ability to do a lot of damage after the catch in the NFL. Howard may not have been used a lot at Alabama, but the skill and confidence is there for him to succeed. The Jaguars, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants are some teams that are in need of a tight end in this upcoming draft. There’s no doubt in my mind Howard will be the sleeper that’s taken in the first round.

Who will take a chance on Howard? How shocked will fans be if he isn’t taken in the first round?

Stay tuned Alabama fans.

Michael Cannady is an intern for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at: @mike_can21.

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