James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


Could the Bengals draft a tight end in the first round?

Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com wants the Bengals to select former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the ninth pick.

Here’s an excerpt of what he wrote:

“In the draft they appear to be looking for another wide receiver that can stretch the field and a heavy-duty running back. But I know what you mean by an X Factor. You can never have enough. It’s why I want them to draft Alabama tight end O.J. Howard at No. 9.”

Howard could be the best player available when the Bengals are on the clock. He is 6’6” tall and 251 pounds. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Howard’s as fast, if not faster than former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, despite being two inches taller and 33 pounds heavier.  Some believe he will be a future all-pro caliber player.

Howard didn’t put up mind-blowing numbers during his four years at Alabama. He finished his college career with 114 receptions, 1,726 yards and 7 touchdowns. He did have four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown against Clemson in January’s National Championship game. Those were good numbers, but they didn’t rival what he did in the 2015-16 National Championship. He finished with five receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

One scout says former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin  “never really knew what to do with” Howard. The scout added that he has the talent to be a great player in the NFL.

If the Bengals went this route, offensive coordinator Ken Zampese would have to find a way to get Howard on the field consistently. The idea of Howard and Eifert playing together sounds great, but only if Zampese puts them in a position to succeed.

Drafting Howard would not only give the offense a premium talent, but it would give the Bengals Eifert insurance. If Eifert left in free agency next year or if he is unable to stay healthy in 2017, they would still have Howard to carry the load.

I do think the Bengals will find a way to extend Eifert or use the franchise tag on him next season. Drafting Howard could also mean splitting Eifert outside and playing him at the wide receiver position. The Bengals have done it some, but it would offer them more flexibility.

Would you be excited to see Howard in stripes?

You can watch Howard’s college film here.

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Pro Football Focus thinks the Bengals should take a wide receiver in round one.

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Email me: JamesRapien@espn1530.com

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