#3 – O.J. Howard, TE, University of Alabama
O.J. Howard might be the most gifted athlete in this draft class. I know, I know. But John Ross broke the Combine’s 40-yard dash record! But Obi Melifonwu had a 44″ vertical leap! Yes. And yes.
But, Howard is a tight end who plays like a wide receiver. Standing above the rest of the field at 6’6″, Howard has an obvious advantage over defensive backs who usually don’t rise above 6’1″ at best. On top of that, let’s throw in elite speed for a tight end.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Howard impressed everyone with a 4.51 in his forty yard dash. That’s faster than all of the NFL’s elite tight ends. Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, you name it. None of them bested Howard’s 4.51.
He also was a top performer in each of the agility drills, including the 3 cone drill and both shuttles. In my eyes, he compares to Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.
On the flip side, he doesn’t have every skill you would look for in a tight end. Again, I will turn to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com for the scoop:
"“Needs better hand strength to sustain his blocks. Can do better job of working feet into position after contact. Needs urgency in his routes to tilt defenders and get them guessing.”"
Clearly, Howard needs to develop a little. But the Cowboys have shown they can develop tight ends. Should the Cowboys be able to capitalize on O.J. Howard’s potential, they could rest assured their contingency plan is solid whenever Gold Jacket Witt decides to hang ’em up.