OJ Howard fits the Tennessee Titans’ “Exotic Smashmouth” identity better than any other first-round prospect in this year’s NFL Draft. The former Alabama tight end has the physical size and abilities to be an immediate impact player in the pass and run game in 2017.
However, will GM Jon Robinson be able to land him in April’s draft?
Howard was once considered a great option for the Titans with the 18th pick in the draft. Now, there’s no way that he’ll be on the board that late in the first round. Mel Kiper Jr. has Howard going sixth overall in his latest mock draft, and Todd McShay has Howard fourth! The ESPN draft duo are just a couple examples of Howard’s ascent throughout the draft process.
In my opinion, Howard won’t go THAT high… (but who knows). If Jon Robinson is going to make OJ Howard a Tennessee Titan, he’ll have to pull off some of his draft magic.
OJ Howard should be 2017’s Jack Conklin
The Titans drafted All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin with the eighth overall pick in 2016. The path to landing Robinson’s first draft pick a as GM was long and winding. The Titans traded away the first overall pick to the LA Rams for the 15th pick (plus what became this year’s 5th overall). Then Robinson moved back up in the top ten on draft night to snag Conklin at eight.
With the Titans lack of a second round pick, most think Robinson is looking to move. Why not try to move out of the fifth pick, to pick up a second rounder and draft Howard with better value?
The best part about the Titans fifth overall pick is that the Jets are one spot behind them. Once again, the Jets are desperate for just about any position on offense. They could be in play for a running back (Leonard Fournette) or a quarterback (insert overrated QB prospect), making the Titans’ pick a perfect place for another team to jump the Jets to get a coveted player.
Trade Scenario No. 1:
The Titans find themselves in the exact spot they landed Conklin last year. The Carolina Panthers need a running back to take some heat off of 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. Panthers coach Ron Rivera already made comments earlier this offseason about the need for Newton to NOT be the team’s leading rusher.
So, boom. The Panther’s jump the Jets to nab Fournette at No. 5, and the Titans swipe Howard at No. 8.
Trade Scenario No. 2:
The Bills are riding with QB Tyrod Taylor, for now. That doesn’t mean Buffalo doesn’t need to draft a quarterback in the first round.
Here, the Titans and Bills swap first rounders (with some other picks involved), and the Bills get their QB at No. 5 and the Titans can get Howard at No. 10. In fact, Will Brinson of CBS Sports has this exact trade playing out.
Trade Scenario No. 3:
Similar to the second trade scenario, the Browns need a quarterback, and they won’t take one first overall. But, they have the 12th pick (from Philadelphia) and have plenty of draft currency to move back up to five to take a QB.
Now the Titans can slide back and take Howard at 12, if he’s still around.
The Titans need OJ Howard for all of the reasons Peter Schrager mentions below… but, fifth overall is not the “Jon Robinson way” to get it done. Titans fans eagerly await Robinson’s 2017 Magic Show.
This is why the Titans should draft TE O.J. Howard.
— FS1 (@FS1) March 23, 2017