As we’ve done in years past, we’re doing our Roster Countdown series of posts as we get ready for the regular season. See the full list of players we’ve covered so far here.
Background: Howard attended Davenport Central High School in Iowa before attending Northern Iowa where he redshirted his first season as a tight end. Howard had a stint on his school’s basketball team, but in 2007 he started all 13 games as the team’s tight end, mostly used as a blocker he had just five receptions for 38 yards. The next year, Howard switched from tight end to offensive tackle during the 2008 offseason and he earned second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors following the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Following the 2010 NFL Draft, Howard went undrafted and was signed by the Eagles as a free agent, playing in four games and starting at left tackle in one. The following season, Howard lost 15 pounds to better fit OL coach Howard Mudd’s system but was waived during final roster cuts in 2011 and he was picked up by the Ravens a few days later before getting signed off the Ravens squad to the Jets active roster in November of 2011. After Wayne Hunter imploded last summer, Rex Ryan announced the decision to bench Hunter in favor of Howard. Ryan said it was a decision a long-time coming, and Howard played well early in the season, frustrating Mario Williams of the Bills in the team’s Week One matchup with the Jets.
2013 Projection: More of the same from Howard. While the Jets have drafted some players at offensive line this year, there’s no one at his heels for the Right Tackle spot. Howard graded out as the league’s 31st best offensive tackle in 2012, which means he’s in the top half among starters at the spot … very good for a player in his first season as a starter and the players that the Jets drafted either would take some time before trying to start at tackle, or are better suited to the interior.