In the 2017 NFL draft the Bills selected Tre’Davious White with the 27th overall pick in the first round. Since then, the team’s front office hasn’t been shy about pursuing talent from that draft class.
The latest example is TE O.J. Howard, who joined the team this past week on a one-year $3.5 million deal.
Since 2018, Howard’s 76.8 receiving grade ranks 13th best among all TE’s pic.twitter.com/dwcluW3zA0
— PFF BUF Bills (@PFF_Bills) March 16, 2022
“This is a place where guys want to come play to win because this team is so close,” Howard said during his introductory press conference. “We’re just so excited to be here, I know I am for myself.”
Last year the team signed former 2017 number two overall pick, QB Mitchell Trubisky, to backup Josh Allen, and this year they had a strong interest in eighth overall pick RB Christian McCaffrey. This past week they continued that trend, signing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers former first-rounder from that draft who they took at 19th overall out of Alabama.
“The proof’s in the pudding if you look at this team the last couple of years,” Howard added. “They were so close to going all the way. I feel with myself and the guys that are here, I can help this team get over the hump and take that next step, whatever it may be – just playing consistent football. These guys are so close. It’s just a great spot to come with a quarterback like Josh (Allen), and seeing all the talent around him, I was like, ‘Myself will fit in well here.’”
Howard is likely to provide depth behind breakout TE Dawson Knox while allowing the Bills offense to run more two-tight end sets on offense, providing big targets for Josh Allen and making things tough on opposing defenses.
His new head coach Sean McDermott had plenty of positive things to say about adding a young talent such as Howard.
“A highly touted guy coming out a few years ago,” McDermott said while addressing the media. “He was high on our radar then and, obviously, was again when the chance came up to circle back and try to get him again. Big, tall body that can get down the seam and box people out.”
Howard was productive in Tampa, though his reps and numbers dipped after injuries as well as the addition of fellow TE and Western New York native Rob Gronkowski. He and Gronk had even talked Buffalo before.
“We always talk about Buffalo, just talking about where he’s from,” Howard shared. “Just about the city in general, about the weather, how cold it is, talking about the wings and the garbage plates, all that good stuff.”
With a chance to take an active role alongside and backing up Knox, Howard also will have the opportunity to grow as a player.
“To this point, maybe he hasn’t been able to do what people thought he would do coming out,” McDermott added. “Again, I think just getting him under our roof and getting him to a spot where he’s having fun playing football again and becoming the best version of himself.”