The arrival of Rob Gronkowski makes O.J. Howard surplus to requirements in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers must trade him to move up in the NFL Draft.
Trading for Rob Gronkowski leaves the Buccaneers overstocked at the tight end position. Unfortunately for Tom Brady, it doesn’t immediately solve the team’s issues at offensive tackle.
The good news is that O.J. Howard could be used to help the franchise protect their new Hall of Fame quarterback. The talented tight end is now on the trade block. The Buccaneers need to use his rights to move up in the draft to select a tackle who can immediately solidify their offensive line.
Currently, the Buccaneers own the No. 14 pick in Round 1. It’s possible they can stand pat and still get a player in the top tier of this year’s class of offensive tackles. Moving up a few spots would give Tampa Bay’s front office the chance to select someone higher on their draft board.
The Buccaneers should be looking to combine Howard with the No. 14 pick to get into the top 10. Someone like the Panthers at No. 7 would be an ideal trade partner. Carolina desperately needs a tight end to replace Greg Olsen. Securing an offensive weapon like Howard would be worth the price of sliding down seven spots for the Panthers front office.
The question the Buccaneers must answer is just how high they’ll need to go to draft the prospect of their choice. It’s highly unlikely they have enough ammunition to move up far enough to grab Tristan Wirfs. The former Iowa star is squarely in the frame to go to the Giants at No. 4. Howard’s a talented player, but he won’t be enough to get the Buccaneers into the top five.
Any other tackle on the board could be within the team’s reach though. In particular, someone like Jedrick Wills would be a good fit for the Buccaneers. He projects to be an offensive lineman who is polished enough to play meaningful snaps right away. That’s a crucial quality for a Tampa Bay team that is positioned to win now.
Andrew Thomas is another tackle who could really interest the Buccaneers. He isn’t as polished as Wills, but he’s also a better fit to play left tackle down the line. That position holds a higher value than right tackle where Wills is likely to play most of his snaps. Wills is better suited to help the Buccaneers at their immediate position of need, but Thomas might have more value in the long haul.
No matter what, it’s crucial for the Buccaneers to cash in on Howard’s value during the draft. Turning him into a top-notch offensive tackle could be the difference between a fun year and a special season for Tampa Bay in 2020.