Austin Howard: Scouting Report on Jets' Replacement for Wayne Hunter
Weight: 333 lbs.
College: Northern Iowa
Draft Selection: Undrafted
While in college, Howard shifted over from tight end to tackle in the 2008 campaign and earned second-team All-Missouri Conference honors that season.
At 6'7", 330 lbs., Howard is a boulder for opposing defenses to move, but the late transition to lineman made him a raw talent. His 2010 Sports Illustrated draft profile described him:
Displays good movement skills, effective on the second level, and can hit a moving target. Plays with a large degree of quickness. He's a solid position blocker and easily controls opponents once engaged the point of attack, makes solid use of angles and body positioning.
His inexperience does leave something to be desired with his technique. SI goes on:
He gets lazy with his hands at times and does not stick them into defenders. Does not finish blocks and tends to fall off defenders. Must improve his overall body strength.
After going undrafted, Howard signed with the Philadelphia in 2010, appearing in four games and starting one as an Eagle. In 2011, he was signed onto Baltimore's practice squad and did not appear in any games for the Ravens, as he was acquired by the Jets a short time later. As a Jet, Howard has not seen any regular-season action.
In their pre-draft scouting report, SI ultimately decided Howard "possesses an NFL body and is a solid long term developmental prospect who should be stashed on a team's practice squad." To this point in his career that's exactly what he's been. After three years of NFL grooming, his technique is refined enough that he presents more to defenses than his ideal lineman's body.
While the Jets' offensive line's poor play this preseason may have forced Rex Ryan's hand in demoting Wayne Hunter, the move shouldn't come as a total surprise. SB Nation New York noted the possibility of Howard challenging Hunter for the starting job almost two weeks ago after the Jets' opening preseason game against Cincinnati.
Head Coach Rex Ryan said of Howard's performance in the game:
Anybody who plays like that deserves to play. That’s something I was encouraged with. (He) put on a clinic.
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