I’m interested to see what happens with O.J. Howard in Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians doesn’t have much of a history with tight ends, but he’s never had a player with that kind of athleticism at the position.

Typically with Arians, when he’s putting together offenses, he’s looking for blocking rather than pass catching. He’s been either the head coach or the offensive coordinator for 11 NFL offenses, and only three of those teams had tight ends who ranked in the top 20 statistically. Remember Heath Miller? – 7th, 9th and 15th among tight ends statistically back in the 2007-2009 seasons.

More commonly, Arians’ tight ends don’t even rank in the top 30 statistically (using standard fantasy scoring).

YearPlayerNoYardsAvgTDF PtsRk
2007Heath Miller, Pitt.4756612.0798.67
2009Heath Miller, Pitt.7678910.46114.99
2008Heath Miller, Pitt.4851410.7369.415
2011Heath Miller, Pitt.5163112.4275.121
2012Dwayne Allen, Ind.4552111.6370.123
2010Heath Miller, Pitt.4251212.2263.225
2014John Carlson, Ariz.3335010.6143.031
2017Jermaine Gresham, Ariz.333229.8244.231
2016Jermaine Gresham, Ariz.3739110.6251.132
2013Rob Housler, Ariz.3945411.6151.433
2015Darren Fells, Ariz.2131114.8349.134
2017Ricky Seals-Jones, Ariz.1220116.8338.136
2012Coby Fleener, Ind.2628110.8240.138
2015Jermaine Gresham, Ariz.1822312.4128.344
2013Jim Dray, Ariz.262158.3233.546
2007Matt Spaeth, Pitt.5346.8321.447
2016Darren Fells, Ariz.1415411.0121.452
2011David Johnson, Pitt.12917.6115.152
2008Matt Spaeth, Pitt.171368.0013.655
2013Jake Ballard, Ariz.77510.7219.556
2017Troy Niklas, Ariz.1113212.0119.256
2010Matt Spaeth, Pitt.9808.9114.058
2015Troy Niklas, Ariz.4338.3215.364
2011Weslye Saunders, Pitt.4297.318.967
2014Rob Housler, Ariz.912914.3012.968
2009Matt Spaeth, Pitt.5255.018.569
2007Jerame Tuman, Pitt.199.016.976
2014Darren Fells, Ariz.57114.207.181
2010David Johnson, Pitt.44611.504.683
2016Ifeanyi Momah, Ariz.25025.005.084
2017Ifeanyi Momah, Ariz.14646.004.687
2008Sean McHugh, Pitt.3248.002.487
2012Weslye Saunders, Ind.2157.501.589
2014Troy Niklas, Ariz.33812.703.894
2009David Johnson, Pitt.294.50.996
2013Kory Sperry, Ariz.11616.001.699
2016Troy Niklas, Ariz.10.00.0106

Howard, on the other hand, isn’t your usual tight end. He can really fly. He showed that in the two national championship games against Clemson, getting downfield for long touchdowns. The Bucs picked him in the first round, and he’s shown some of that ability at the pro level.

In his rookie season, Howard was the only tight end in the league that gained over 20 yards on over a third of his catches. He led the league again in that category last year. He’s a tight end in name but runs like a wide receiver. He’s averaged a league-high 16.6 yards per catch over the last two years. Howard missed the last six games last year with an ankle injury, but that won’t be a factor going forward.

The Bucs also have Cameron Brate, who’s a reliable option on short routes around the goal line, but Howard is the player there with unusual, mismatch-creating potential.

While Arians tends to prefer to utilize tight ends as blocker, I’m thinking he’ll need to adjust his system some to accommodate Howard’s talents.

O.J. Howard, T.B.6099716.61120
Rob Gronkowski, N.E.1161,76615.21126
Vernon Davis, Wash.681,01514.9519
George Kittle, S.F.1311,89214.4728
Ed Dickson, Car.4258013.849
Jared Cook, Oak.1221,58413.0825
Hunter Henry, LAC4557912.948
Travis Kelce, K.C.1862,37412.81837
Vance McDonald, Pitt.6479812.559
Tyler Higbee, LAR4958712.038
Evan Engram, NYG1091,29911.9919
Ricky Seals-Jones, Ariz.4654411.8410
David Njoku, Clev.881,02511.6817
Gerald Everett, LAR4956411.558
Cameron Brate, T.B.7888011.3127
Antonio Gates, LAC5864911.258
Eric Ebron, Det.-Ind.1191,32411.11713
Delanie Walker, Ten.7885911.039
Greg Olsen, Car.4448211.054
Jesse James, Pitt.7379510.959
Trey Burton, Phi.-Chi.7781710.6119
Charles Clay, Buff.7074210.629
Jeff Heuerman, Den.4042310.644
Zach Ertz, Phil.1901,98710.51620
Rhett Ellison, NYG4950710.333
Jimmy Graham, Sea.-G.B.1121,15610.31215
C.J. Uzomah, Cin.5353110.048
Jermaine Gresham, Ariz.424169.924
Austin Hooper, Atl.1201,1869.9712
Kyle Rudolph, Minn.1211,1669.61210
Benjamin Watson, Blt.-N.O.969229.6611
Nick Vannett, Sea.413939.642
Tyler Kroft, Cin.464409.674
Jordan Reed, Wash.817699.548
Julius Thomas, Mia.413889.534
Jason Witten, Dall.635608.953
Jack Doyle, Ind.1069358.865
Nick Boyle, Balt.514168.201
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ-Jac.614477.343

—Ian Allan