BUCCANEER DRAFT TALK : O.J. HOWARD
By Leo Haggerty
With the 19th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected a player that no one in the organization, in their wildest dreams, would have believed would be still on the board. The best part was the Pewter Pirates didn’t even have to sweeten the pot to get Alabama TE O.J. Howard. He was still available at 19 so the Bucs swooped in and gobbled up the 6’6 Prattville, AL product.
Below are the comments from General Manager Jason Licht and Head Coach Dirk Koetter as well as Howard himself. Enjoy.
GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT
LH : We know Coach Koetter likes to play with multiple tight end sets. This pick would seem to put defenses in a real bind especially on first down. You now have two huge tight ends along with the size of Mike Evans and the speed of DeSean Jackson on the outside. Is he the happiest man in the room right now?
JL : We’re all pretty happy, but that’s the biggest hug I’ve ever gotten from Coach Koetter. He is beyond excited. I’ve already heard from Jameis, I’ve heard from other guys on our team. There’s a lot of excitement around here right now.
LH : When teams are in a base defense, especially on first down, you have the ability now to split Howard out. Is that a match-up nightmare for defenses?
JL : There’s a lot of things you can do with a guy like that and I know that Dirk is probably in his office right now, drawing up plays.
LH : The quarterbacks may have went a bit higher than people anticipated. Did that impact Howard being available?
JL : It certainly helped.
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
LH : Howard played extremely well in the last two College Football National Championship Games. How important was that to you that he showed up strong when the lights were the brightest?
DK : He definitely did that. He definitely did that and that is one thing that definitely jumped out. Going back to two years ago, we noticed him there. They had a lot of stars on his team, on the team he played on in college. There were a lot of stars but you never heard any whining from him. When he was called on he came up big every time.
LH : Howard seems like a guy you can, on first and second down, split out against a base defense. Do you envision that happening?
Oh, I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves for tonight. We said we needed more explosive players and this is an explosive player, he just plays inside instead of playing outside and we were fortunate enough to add speed on the outside with DeSean Jackson to pair up with Mike Evans and now we’ve got two tight ends to pair side by side in Cam Brate and O.J.
TIGHT END O.J. HOWARD
LH : When teams watched film of you, especially the Buccaneers, what was the strongest part of your game?
OH : Just a guy that can be a three-down tight end. One that can go in there and block. Also stretch the field and make plays. I think that’s what stands out the most.
LH : You’re coming to a team with two other tight ends at 6’5″ and WR Mike Adams at 6″5. It’s like a basketball team here and your 6’6″. How big of an advantage do you think it will be with all that size at the receiver positions?
OH : Huge. I think it’s going to be a huge advantage for tall guys. It gives us a chance to make plays. Jameis can throw it up and let us make plays. That sounds very exciting.
LH : Alabama is a run-first offense with Coach Saban. How nice is it going to be to come here and play under Coach Koetter’s down-the-field offense that really gets the tight ends involved?
OH : Oh man, it’s going to be amazing. I want to finally get a chance to see what I can do with an offense like that. I’m very excited to see how it plays out.