Cleveland Browns: Breaking down the idea of taking O.J. Howard at No. 12 overall
The Cleveland Browns may be in a position to draft former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the No. 12 overall pick and could decide to do just that.
The Cleveland Browns are heading into the 2017 NFL Draft in need of improvement at nearly every position on the field. Yet, tight end is not at the top of the list.
That is why the talk, at least in mock drafts, of O.J. Howard being selected by the Browns with the No. 12 overall pick is interesting. The former Alabama tight end did not light it up statistically in college, but his 6-foot-6, 251-pound frame, along with a 4.51 40-yard dash time, make him a can’t-miss prospect.
He only finished with 595 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 2016, but it was not due to a lack of ability. Whether it be the offense not being directed his way or an inability to make him the focal point, Howard’s stats do not tell the whole story.
That is clear by the way his draft stock has risen throughout the offseason, leading some to think the Browns could take him at No. 12.
Initially, this may have seemed crazy to Browns fans. The team has already invested in Gary Barnidge, who had a rough 2016 season although the entire offense was at a historically bad level. Add in a pick spent on Seth DeValve in 2016 and the Browns aren’t in need of upgrading at tight end.
But when it comes to the draft, the Browns should be going after the most talented players available at each position. Barnidge and DeValve are not superstars, so if the front office believes Howard can come in and be the next great tight end, they need to take him.
The current philosophy being used by the front office is to draft talent, regardless of position. That is a smart move when building up from the bottom, as keeping mediocre players when better ones are available doesn’t help the team move forward.
This is not to say the Browns are set on taking Howard, but if they do the proper research and it becomes clear that they value him as a top-12 pick, there is no reason to pass on him just because of Barnidge’s presence on the team.
Next: Complete 6-round Browns mock draft
With the loss of Terrelle Pryor and the uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon, Howard could come in and be an immediate threat right away, adding a new dynamic to the offense. Barnidge gave fans a glimpse of this in 2015, but Howard’s ceiling appears to be much higher.