Calling his route running "fantastic," Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has been watching some of Redskins tight end Jordan Reed's game film to prepare for the next step in his football career.
The tight ends in the NFL Draft Class of 2017 is loaded, but Alabama's O.J. Howard is considered by most draft pundits as the best player at the position.
Not only did he have a superb career with the Crimson Tide, but the 6-foot-6, 249 pounder was a dominant force at January's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., as his practice performances turn heads among the media and front office personnel.
Howard hopes to parlay his skill set over to a successful NFL career. One way he's getting ready for the professional ranks is by studying current Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed.
"Yeah, Jordan Reed is a guy I love to watch, also," Howard said on Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "He's kind of considered a receiver by a lot of guys, but he runs really good routes. The way he runs routes is fantastic. So I try to steal a lot of things from his book."
Reed is certainly a great choice to watch. After two solid seasons to start his career in 2013 and 2014, Reed experienced a breakout campaign in 2015, as the University of Florida product led all Redskins players in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this season, becoming the first Redskins tight end to lead the team in all three categories since Jean Fugett in 1977.
The 2013 third-round pick also finished second among NFL tight ends in receptions, tied for second in touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards.
Reed signed a multi-year extension last offseason and continued to be a lethal pass-catching threat in 2016, catching 66 passes for 686 yards and six touchdowns in just 12 games. He was also named to his first career Pro Bowl.
Back to Howard for a minute, though.
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Howard is an "exceptionally gifted athlete" who "has tools to torment defenses on second and third level."
In four seasons with Alabama, Howard caught 114 passes for 1.726 yards and seven touchdowns.
"[I'm] a guy that can come in, and defenses cannot key on you just because you come in on third down and you're going to go out for a pass," said Howard, who has a meeting scheduled with the Redskins. "I want to be a guy that stays on the field all the time. I can do it all. Play goal line packages, all of the above. Check all the boxes. All of it."
Howard added that while he's known for his pass-catching abilities, he takes pride in his ability to hold up in protection.
"I don't think it's underrated," Howard said. "I think a lot of scouts understand I'll get in there, stick my nose in, and block. They always mention that in the meetings so far this week. I don't think it's underrated or overlooked or anything, but I do take a lot of pride in blocking."