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3 reasons the Bills should draft: Alabama TE O.J. Howard

Position: Tight end.

School: Alabama.

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 251 pounds.

Combine stats: 40-yard dash: 4.51 seconds. Bench press: 22 reps. Vertical jump: 30 inches. Broad jump: 10 feet, 1 inch. 3-cone drill: 6.85 seconds. 20-yard shuttle: 4.16 seconds. 60-yard shuttle: 11.46 seconds.

Career stats: 57 games, 114 catches, 1,726 yards, seven touchdowns.

Draft projection: First round.


1. He is the very best of what shapes up as an outstanding class at his position. His career numbers don't show tremendous production, but that's because the Crimson Tide offense doesn't make extensive use of the tight end as a receiver. Howard is an exceptionally gifted athlete with great speed, agility, body control, and acceleration after the catch. He does a superb job of tracking the ball in the air and using his reliable hands to snatch it away from his body. Howard has an extremely wide catch radius.

2. He comes from a pro-style offense. Howard is ready to make an immediate contribution in the NFL. He showed excellent versatility in college, lining up at a variety of positions in college. Besides playing in tight, Howard also was used at Y, split out, in the slot and on the wing. With the likelihood that he ends up on a team that places far greater emphasis on throwing the ball to the tight end, he should put up impressive numbers right away.

3. He puts considerable effort into blocking. Howard does need work in this area, but he has a great deal of strength and power. And he doesn't hesitate to put everything he has into each block. On talent alone, Howard has the makings of an outstanding blocker. He needs to focus on technique and finishing blocks. He made improvement in those areas last season, and coaching at the next level should provide more help.

Fun fact: Howard is expected to become the first tight end chosen in the first round since 2014.

They said it: "We haven't seen tight ends over the last few years with this type of multi-dimensional talent. You saw these tight ends in the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Now, you have kind of the glorified wide receivers who can't block. He is an extension of your line. He will help your running game. So I think a tight end that can block, in-line, is a rarity these days." ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NFL Draft, which begins April 27. Up next: Temple linebacker Haason Reddick.

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