In this series of articles, our resident tape wizard Greg Cosell will take an in-depth look at some of the more interesting fantasy players for the 2020 NFL season. It’s a peek behind the curtain of the film room, as these are Greg’s raw, unfiltered notes he takes as he watches a player.
Last year, the Buccaneers were expected to have two major breakouts in their passing game — WR Chris Godwin (which came to fruition) and TE OJ Howard (which, uh, didn’t). Many blamed Howard’s lack of production on coach Bruce Arians’ lack of TE friendliness in his offense, but the arrival of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to town suggests “12” personnel (1 RB, 2 TE) will be a big part of what the Bucs do this year. Will Howard find a role?
Howard stats: 34/459/1 TD (53 targets, 13.5 YPR)
Howard aligned in multiple positions based on personnel, down and distance, and field location.
Howard predominantly aligned tight to the formation as the line-of-scrimmage TE and flexed alignments.
In 11 personnel packages, Howard lined up both as the #3 receiver in 3x1 sets (LOS and flexed) and the boundary X in 1x3 sets (often on the LOS or flexed — Howard rarely was split wide as the boundary X). He had a 22-yard catch on a corner route from the flexed boundary X out of 11 1x3 versus Jaguars.
From LOS TE and flexed alignments, Howard ran sit routes, curl routes, shallow and intermediate crossers, and seam routes (two 18-yard receptions versus Giants).
Howard aligned at LOS TE in 6-OL personnel – an example would be his corner route off play action versus Jaguars for 25 yards.
Howard aligned as the #2 in 11 2x2 sets, at times attacking the vertical seam (26 yards versus Cards).
Howard had snaps in which he aligned at #3 in tight trips bunch and in empty sets. He also had empty-set snaps in which he was #2 to twins to the boundary (25 yards on corner route versus Lions).
Howard’s 33-yard reception versus the Colts came on a well-designed three-man boundary route concept with Howard running the seam route from LOS TE alignment out of closed formation (TE Cameron Brate as the wing alignment outside of Howard) – Howard’s 18-yard reception versus the Texans was a similar 3-man boundary route concept.
Howard was used in the screen game with his run-after-catch straight-line burst and speed – 30 yards versus Panthers a good example.
Howard had two big receptions on backside wheel route concepts off of the play-action boot – schemed explosive plays.
Howard showed the ability to beat both LBs and safeties with his size and athleticism on intermediate and vertical routes.
Howard absolutely looks the part of the big athletic TE who can attack and challenge defenses at the intermediate and vertical levels of the defense. He is somewhat straight-line and linear in his movement, but he has plus speed and some explosiveness.
Howard was not overly efficient and precise in his route running. He did not show a lot of nuance and detail to create separation and win.