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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

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Could the Giants still draft a top tight end?

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We know that the New York Giants both want and need to upgrade their tight end position. Fate seems to have agreed as well and given them the best selection of tight end prospects we have seen in quite some time.

Currently rated at the top of the pack is Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. So far Howard has had a strong draft process, with a dominant week at the Senior Bowl and a good performance at the combine. He is considered one of the cleanest players in the draft -- he has great size, athleticism, skills, and character. All which makes him a natural candidate for the Giants to draft at 23rd overall.

But will they?

Measurables

Pros

  • Prototypical blend of size and athleticism.
  • Experience in-line, but has the ability to play the slot or be split out wide.
  • Capable run blocker out of a two or three point stance.
  • Excellent athlete to stretch the seam and attack downfield.
  • Frame has room to add muscle if necessary.

Cons

  • Only had three touchdowns his senior year and seven total.
  • Not a major factor in Alabama’s passing attack.
  • Often schemed free releases or “easy” completions on screen passes.
  • Does most of his best blocking at the second level. Can struggle to handle defensive ends or bigger linebackers close to the line of scrimmage.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

Yes, he does.

The Giants need to upgrade both the blocking and receiving from their tight ends. Howard is the best blocker of the top tight ends, and his 4.51s forty yard dash combined with his 6’5” frame should let him threaten defenses down the seam.

There is a bit of a question in how quickly Howard will acclimate to the Giants’ passing offense. He wasn’t a featured part of Alabama’s passing game, but when he was a target he was often schemed open and rarely had to deal with tight coverage. His speed and agility are promising and evident, and he was well coached in college, but the questions still need to be asked.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - 22nd overall

Mocking The Draft - N/A

CBS Sports - 7th overall

Draft Countdown - 8th overall

Draft Tek - 17th overall

Final Thoughts

After a strong workout at the combine and a week of dominating drills and 1-on-1 match-ups at the Senior Bowl, the biggest question might be “Will Howard be there at 23rd overall?”

Howard’s stock has been steadily rising since the end of the season and very well could be out of the Giants’ reach by the time the draft rolls around. We don’t know whether or not the Giants are specifically interested in Howard -- they did meet with him at the combine. But they met with several others, and we have had reports that their interest has been focused on “move” tight ends.

However, where their interests lie may not matter and Howard could be long gone by the time the Giants pick.