Will the Dallas Cowboys pull the trigger on a tight end in the first round of the draft if Alabama’s O.J. Howard is available when they pick at number 28?
Media analysts, draftniks and fans were left collectively scratched their heads when the Dallas Cowboys drafted San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round (47th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft.
With several other more pressing needs across their roster, and a future Hall of Famer in his prime already cemented at the position in Jason Witten, the reach for Escobar seemed quite puzzling.
Four years later, Escobar is an absolute draft bust who wilted in the shadow of Witten during his time in Dallas. The now-free agent tight end recorded a total of 30 receptions for 333 yards and eight touchdowns in four seasons. It’s unlikely the Cowboys will choose to re-sign Escobar.
But with Witten turning 35-years old in May, and in the final year of his current contract with no plans to extend him at the moment, the time to find his successor seems to be now. That is if you want the benefit of a potential replacement learning directly from a future first ballot Hall of Famer.
So, if the top rated tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft falls to the Cowboys in the first round, should Dallas pull the trigger? CBS Sports NFL Draft guru and co-host of The Draft Show on DallasCowboys.com Dane Brugler believes so, as he predicts Dallas will select Howard in his latest mock draft.
"“O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: The Cowboys have defensive needs at every level, but if Howard is still on the board, it will be tough for Dallas to pass him up. He will contribute as a rookie and give Dallas a long-term option after Jason Witten retires.” – Dane Brugler, CBS Sports, 2/28/17"
Despite the Cowboys draft history with Escobar, landing a player like Howard could be franchise changing offensively. CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang compares the young prospect’s skill set to that of Seattle Seahawks’ tight end Jimmy Graham.
Rang goes on to describe Howard as an explosive athlete with excellent balance, agility and speed, whom at 6-foot-6, 251 pounds also possesses the physical attributes to be an effective blocker. That type of all-around, complete tight end is exactly what the Cowboys need at the position.
In his last two seasons at Alabama, Howard recorded 83 receptions for 1,197 yards and five touchdowns total.
Just like back in 2013, the Dallas Cowboys have other more pressing needs to address on their roster over the tight end position. Specifically at defensive end, wide receiver and cornerback. But the Cowboys brass are a big proponent of drafting talent over need. If Howard is on the board when Dallas’ selects at 28th overall in the first round, he’ll likely be the most talented player available.