Mayock: O.J. Howard a top-20 pick, reminds me of Greg Olsen

Just how high will Alabama tight end O.J. Howard go in the 2017 NFL Draft?

After an impressive week in which he was selected by a panel of scouts as the Reese's Senior Bowl's top practice player, Howard was projected as a top-20 selection by NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock.

"I think he had two goals, one, show he can separate against man-to-man coverage, and two, confirm that he is a much better blocker than he was a couple years ago. Both goals were accomplished," Mayock said on NFL Network Saturday in pre-game remarks. "In my opinion, he's a top-20 pick and my NFL comp for him will be Greg Olsen. He can block, he can be in-line, and he can beat you downfield vertically."

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks has the New York Giantstaking Howard at No. 23 in his post-Senior Bowl practice week mock.

As for Mayock's comparison to Olsen, Howard would do well to even approach the career of the former Miami Hurricane. Olsen enters his 11th NFL season in 2017, the last six with the Carolina Panthers, and has posted 1,000-plus receiving yards over each of the last three regular seasons. A poll of five NFL executives earlier this week about a comparison for Howard produced a pair of suggestions for Seattle Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham, and one each for Eric Ebron, a former first-round pick of the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe.

Mayock also said that Howard told him prior to the game that he believes he can run a 4.58 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis next month. If he does, the buzz on Howard's pro potential will be all the louder.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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