Jameis Winston: 'Moon' is limit for Bucs TE O.J. Howard

Print

O.J. Howard was on a burst-out pace through 10 games of the 2018 season before foot and ankle injuries shelved him for the final six games of the year.

Entering his third season, Howard could be poised to make another massive leap. Quarterback Jameis Winston sees limitless potential in the athletic tight end.

"The sky's the limit really, not even the sky -- probably the moon," Winston said, via Pewter Report. "Why limit him there? This guy, he's incredible. He and Cam (Brate) really compliment each other well. I think O.J. can learn a lot of things from Cam, I believe having both of those guys is going to make our offense go to the top.

"You can't really stop O.J. from doing anything. He's going to blow you off the ball with blocking, he'll run past you and stiff arm you. I know he's going to have a great season and Lord willing, he's going to stay healthy and make it to the Pro Bowl like he was before he got injured."

Howard owns the athletic ability to become the top tight end in the entire NFL. The Alabama product can blow by linebackers in space, bully safeties at the catch point, and is a very good route runner at this stage of his career. Injuries have been the one thing to curtail the start of his career. Howard ranked as the No. 2 tight end last season per Pro Football Focus' grades despite missing the final six games.

The biggest deficiency in Howard's game is his run blocking, where he occasionally struggles to sustain his push.

Tight ends generally take a few seasons to fully transition to the NFL, which makes Winston's prediction that Howard will soar in Year 3 poignant.

The outlying question entering offseason workouts is how Bruce Arians will deploy his dual tight end threats. This is a coach who famously once said during his reign in Arizona of his tight ends: "They're here to block." No Cardinals tight end ever earned 40 catches or 500 yards in a single season during Arians' four years in Arizona.

Whether Arians' stance on tight ends was based on personnel or scheme is something to monitor in Tampa. The Cards didn't have great pass-catching tight ends. The Bucs do. It's instructional to note that Heath Miller had his best season in Pittsburgh the year after Arians left.

Given the talent at the tight end position with Howard and Brate, we'd expect to see Arians adjust his tendencies and utilize his tight ends in the passing game more in 2019, especially after losing wide receivers Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson this offseason.

Print