The Buccaneers believe they can get a lot more out of their 2017 first-round draft pick, TE O.J. Howard, as he starts to get better at all the little things his job entails
Barring a dramatic trade of some sort, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will add another first-round draft pick to their roster on the evening of April 26. There’s a good chance that player will immediately assume a big role on the 2018 squad, particularly if he is of top-10 pedigree.
The Buccaneers hope that newcomer will help in their efforts to rebound from a 5-11 season and surge back into playoff contention in 2018. Of perhaps equal importance to that effort is how Tampa Bay’s last first-round pick performs this coming fall.
A year ago, Tampa Bay brass was surprised to see Alabama tight end O.J. Howard still on the board at pick 19, where they eagerly snapped him up. It was the first time the franchise had ever used a first-round pick on a tight end, and it was part of an overhaul of Jameis Winston’s cast of weapons that also included the signing of free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson and the selection of Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin in the third round.
Obviously, Tampa Bay’s talent evaluators thought very highly of Howard – as did the football community as a whole – and those opinions haven’t changed. That said, it can take even the most talented prospect some time to adjust to the NFL level and fully realize his potential, and the Buccaneers don’t believe that Howard has come close to peaking yet.
In short, the Buccaneers expect to get a lot more out of Howard in 2018, and that could have an impact as great as any rookie newcomer.
“That rookie year is such a whirlwind,” said Head Coach Dirk Koetter. “You’re a first-round draft pick; everybody’s got high expectations. O.J. played in an elite college program in Alabama. I know he had tapes that he was studying over the offseason and I think O.J.’s going to see that…