There is a lot of bad in the 2017 NFL draft. The quarterback class is bad. The offensive line class is bad. However, the tight end class is far from bad. In fact, that group may be the best we’ve ever seen in the history of the draft.
There are several franchise players available in the class, several of whom could become first round picks. I have handed out four first round grades for tight ends, more than any other draft I’ve studied. Point being, there are plenty of great players to be had at tight end in this class. However, one stands out above all of them.
Here’s my full scouting report on Alabama’s physical freak O.J. Howard.
40-yard-dash: 4.51 seconds
Date of Birth: November 19, 1994
Howard is an extraordinarily willing run blocker. He gives up his body unlike many young tight ends can. He has exceptional physical strength and an ideal frame.
He’s a dynamic enough option in the passing game to break games open and he can do anything necessary at the position, plus more. Has long arms and huge hands for the position.
Howard could afford to fill out his body with a bit more muscle. Scouts and NFL people I’ve talked with have questions about whether Howard genuinely loves playing football. That’s an enormous problem, but Howard has spent his college career playing in one of the most demanding college football programs in the business. That should be enough for someone with a top 10 pick to embrace Howard.
WHERE HE SHOULD GO
Howard has the athleticism and physical size to be a first round pick almost no matter what. However, his willingness as a blocker makes him a must-have prospect if you’re a team looking for a tight end in the top 10.
WHERE HE WILL GO
I expect Howard to be taken between the No. 6 and No. 11 overall picks. That’s the appropriate range for him and teams are buying in to his ability. He’ll be the first tight end off the board in this tremendous tight end class.
CAN HE BE A BRONCO?
They’d sure like him to be. Howard would be an instant play-making option for Denver who would solve several of their biggest needs. He’s not going to be available for them, though. Howard will be gone before Denver picks at No. 20.
In a class this deep, however, there are other options for the Broncos at tight end.
O.J. Howard is the headliner of an all-time great tight end class. He’s a physical freak with great hands, an ideal frame, and a rare willingness to sacrifice his body in the running game. Whomever winds up drafting him is going to be getting a legitimate threat in every facet of their offense.