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Lost in the hype about this year's dominant defensive line class is an above-average crop of offensive tackles. Howard -- a former high school quarterback and tight end as recently as 2014 -- ranks among this year's top sleeper prospects, regardless of position.
Despite hailing from the talent-rich state of Alabama, Howard fell through the recruiting cracks while focusing more on basketball and wound up at Alabama State as a tight end. Four years and roughly 85 pounds later -- with stellar performances at Auburn, the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine -- Howard is well on his way to joining his former linemate Jylan Ware (2017 seventh-rounder by Oakland) as an NFL draft pick. He could be the highest Hornet selected since another former quarterback -- Tarvaris Jackson -- was picked 64th overall by Minnesota in 2006.
Questions about Howard's level of competition are an undeniable concern, but just as obvious is his raw athleticism and imposing size. The 34-game starter, with experience at both tackle positions, could just be scratching the surface of his potential.
Physically-imposing offensive tackle with broad shoulders and vine-like 34" arms. Above-average initial quickness, core flexibility and speed for the position, showing ballerina-like feet to dance with edge rushers and surprising linebackers with his quickness and agility when climbing to the second level. Is not reliant upon his feet, using length to force rushers wide and swivel-like hips to turn his frame smoothly, with balance to recover if beaten initially.
While Howard possesses many traits to project as a future starter, he has some flaws to iron out, including improving his hand placement and overall strength. Howard posted a respectable 21 bench-press repetitions of 225 pounds at the combine, but he lacks pop in his punch or the leg strength to drive the pile, even against lower competition.
Projection: Third-Fourth Round
--Field Level Media