Coming into the National Championship Game against Clemson OJ Howard was thought to be a second or third round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he decided to come out early. But after blowing up for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns the Alabama tight end’s draft stock is at an all-time high. Howard is set to meet with Nick Saban later this week to talk about his future.
All of the Bama underclassmen who asked for letter from the NFL Draft Advisory Board will open their letters this week to learn where the experts think they will be picked. Coach Saban didn’t like the players knowing where they were projected before the season was over thinking it would hinder their performance in the Championsip Game. All of the players voted to wait until after the game against Clemson to read their letters.
If Howard does decided to forgo his senior year and come out now he really couldn’t have scripted his final game to have gone any better. The Crimson Tide tight end had under-achieved for most of his career in Tuscaloosa but picked the right time to bust out. His coming out party against the Tigers could ultimately be a multi-million dollar performance if Howard does come out and end up getting drafted late in the first round. At 6’6, 240 pounds Howard has the size and agility NFL scouts love. He provides a big mismatch if he’s matched up against a corner and has Jimmy Graham like ability at the next level.
Howard was a five star prospect in 2013 that never really got going in Lane Kiffin’s system. Kiffin tailored the offense around Derrick Henry and TJ Yeldon the last two seasons and this year an extra emphasis was put on Calvin Ridley getting the ball more. Howard was always there he just wasn’t a top option for the Tide.
Most NFL Draft experts thought that Howard would be selected in the second or third round if he decided to come out in 2016. But after last night he could jump into the first round. A team picking late in the first round like Green Bay cold really take advantage of Howard’s size in the passing game. With Aaron Rodgers under center a big tight end with good hand will always flourish in Green Bay. Should Howard decide to come back next year he could work to improve his draft stock with another year under Saban and Kiffin.
We will have to wait and see just what Howard wants to do. He couldn’t have picked a better time to put on a show on the biggest stage if he wants to cash in on the 2016 NFL Draft. But if Howard want to come back and wait until 2017 NFL Draft he will still be a guy who could go in the first round.