The Buffalo Bills made headlines earlier this spring when they signed former first-round pick Von Miller to a massive multi-year deal. That same day, the Bills brought in another former first-rounder—signing tight end O.J. Howard to a one-year deal. While one player is looking for one last opportunity to pair additional hardware with his eventual first-ballot nomination to the NFL Hall of Fame, another is only 27 years old and looking for redemption and opportunity.
Howard’s one-year deal provides him an all-important prove-it opportunity. Certainly, he could provide a wealth of utility to the offense whether in 2TE sets or spelling Dawson Knox. There’s even a chance for him to be a sleeper as a major contributor on offense. When Howard came out of Alabama, draft chatter mentioned Buffalo as a possible landing spot. Of course, that year they traded down with the Kansas City Chiefs, and selected Tre’Davious White. The Chiefs—they took someone else.
To get a scouting report on O.J. Howard, we talked to Gil Arcia from Bucs Nation who followed Howard during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
1) As a Buc, what did O.J. Howard bring to the team?
Howard always competed. I know that there was a lot of talk when Bruce Arians first came that he struggled with grasping the offensive concepts. But he truly did not shy away from making sure he was practicing and trying to get on the field as quickly as possible. We saw his potential in Arians’ system this past season when he played well in Philadelphia. However, he was always going to be behind Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.
2) Do you think his skillset will transfer well in Buffalo?
I would think so. I feel Howard undoubtedly has the tools to play at a big time level in the NFL. His speed as well as size makes him a mismatch against many opponents each week.
3) Are there areas where you feel the Buccaneers didn’t utilize Howard well?
Howard works best in space. I think a lot of the routes Howard ran in Tampa Bay left him sitting short in the zone and only a few times did we see him run up the seams. That is where I think Howard truly excels.
4) What would you consider Howard’s biggest weakness?
Unfortunately, Howard has been very inconsistent with his hands and holding on to the football. That improved slightly last season but in a very limited role. So it is hard to judge if that weakness has been worked on.
5) Overall thoughts on the contract O.J. Howard signed with Buffalo?
I think his one-year prove it deal in Buffalo will give him just enough motivation to not only excel but show that he belongs in the NFL. The former first-rounder has the tools and that is without question. He just has to make sure he remains consistent for the Bills and the future should be a promising one.