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PFF ranks Bucs rookie worst first rounder of 2017

Tampa thought they had the steal of the 2017 draft when they drafted O.J. Howard 19th overall.  The People at Pro Football Focus have a different opinion.  

Yesterday, Pro Football Focus released their grades for every first round pick in the 2017 draft.

They had Bucs TE O.J. Howard rated as the worst pick in the entire first round.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  When the Buccaneers drafted Howard there was no doubt they were getting a very talented player.  A player some thought was the best on the field during his time at Alabama.  Granted it took the rookie a while to find his footing in the NFL.

After more than a quarter of the season had been played, Howard only had a total of five catches and one touchdown.  It was in the teams Week 7 match-up where Howard broke out.  In that game against the Bills, Howard finished with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.  Coming into the later stages of the season Howard’s talent and potential were on full display.  Our own Kris Dunn posted an article back in November outlining how Howard was in the top 10 in numerous categories among rookies.

Let’s compare the Bucs Howard to fellow first round TE David Njoku of the Browns.

First and the most obvious, David Njoku graded out 27.1 points higher than Howard. 69 to 41.9  This seems like a significant difference between the two.  You are probably thinking well surely Njoku must have had a stellar statistical season compared to Howard, right?  Wrong.  Howard finished the season with 26 catches, 432 yards and six touchdowns.  His long reception on the year was 58 yards.  Njoku, meanwhile, finished with 32 catches, 386 yards and four touchdowns.  His season long reception was 34 yards.  You’ll notice that the only category Njoku had a better number was in receptions and it was only six receptions.

So, how could Njoku grade out so much higher than Howard?  Well, PFF uses a method of calculating the impact a player has on a play.  Perhaps the plays that Njoku was involved in had a greater impact on those particular plays.  Also, you have to consider blocking.  Howard wasn’t a great blocker and it took him some time to get that phase of his game down.

In terms of production, find me a rookie TE that had a better rookie year than Howard.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  This should be taken with a grain of salt.  Tampa has a spectacular young tight end that will only continue to get better and improve over the years.

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