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Scouting Report: Colts Offensive Tackle Austin Howard

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Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Measurables:

Height: 6’7” | Weight: 330 lbs | Age: 31 | Experience: 9 Years | 40 Yard Dash: 5.40
10 Yard Split: 1.86 | Bench Reps: 19 | Vertical Jump: 30.5 | Broad Jump: 109
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.62 | 3-Cone Drill: 8.10

College: Northern Iowa

Professional Transactions:

Signed by the Colts as a free agent on May 9, 2018.
Signed by the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent on August 4, 2017.
Released by the Oakland Raiders on July 28, 2017.
Signed by Oakland as an unrestricted free agent on March 12, 2014.
Signed to the New Jets active roster from the Ravens practice squad on November 23, 2011.
Signed to the Baltimore practice squad on September 6, 2011.
Waived by the Philadelphia Eagles on September 3, 2011.
Signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent on April 26, 2010.

Contract Terms: 1-Year, $4,250,000 with $1,300,000 guaranteed.

NFL Career Stats:

92 Games | 88 Starts


AUSTIN HOWARD DESCRIBES HIS WORK ETHIC

One of the first things that stands out for Austin Howard is the length of time he has been in the NFL. He is going into his ninth NFL season for his fifth team but has managed to start 88 out of 92 total games played throughout his career. While it isn’t necessarily easy to find coach and teammate comments to gush about how he approaches the game, Howard has had the opportunity to describe how he faces adversity and corrects mistakes in his game.

In an article by Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun, Howard explained that while coaches encourage players to move on from mistakes, he approaches things differently.

“You have to beat yourself up a little bit,” he said. “We have to get better as a team, and that starts with looking at the guy in the mirror. … If you had a few plays you wish you could have back, that’s one of the worst feelings ever. They always say, ‘Let’s move on, let’s move on.’ But for me, I have to know what happened on those plays that went poorly.”

One way he is able to evaluate his performance is by looking for honest feedback from people around him. His brother Marcel, who himself was an NFL offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, is not afraid to be a harsh critic and point out areas Howard can improve.

“I want to know,” Howard said. “I don’t listen to all people, but people I trust, I want their honest opinion of my performance.”

This kind of focus on how to improve and how to identify and address mistakes represents the kind of leadership by example and locker room presence Colts general manager Chris Ballard often speaks about. More than that, Howard is thoughtful about the process of what it takes to make it in the NFL year-after-year.

“There are so many things that go into it,” he said. “The training in the offseason — people think you’re playing six months but then you get four or five months of vacation. But that’s typically not the case. You’re going elsewhere to train four, five, six hours a day. That means time away from our wives and kids. So much planning and work goes into this, both in season and during the offseason. So much that people don’t see.”

Perhaps what is even more important as it relates to the attitude of an NFL football player is how much dedication and focus there has to be to make it for most players. Distractions have to be reduced and the drive to be a football player has to stay above everything else. When asked what he would be doing if he were not playing football as a profession, Howard’s response made it clear that he is still focused entirely on being the best football player he can be.

“That’s such a hard question to answer,” he said. “Because you put everything you have into this. It’s been your dream since you were a kid. You’ve prayed about it and had conversations with your parents about it — one day I’m going to make it. You’ve literally put every fiber of yourself into making a team. So I really don’t know what else I’d be doing.”

For those who think that this kind of work ethic and focus is something that Howard developed over his career, we can turn to another interview held back in 2012. Rich Cimini of ESPN discussed the similarities between Howard’s road to the NFL and Kurt Warner’s, all the way down to working at the same grocery chain.

When Howard entered the league he had a lot of work to do if he wanted to make a career of it. He bounced around a bit early in his career and even experienced a challenge with his weight.

Howard was the biggest surprise in training camp, considering where he was only five months ago. In March, he ballooned to nearly 360 pounds, causing people in the organization to wonder whether he had the commitment to make it in the league.

”They always told me, ‘Hey, you have so much potential,’” he said. “To me, that says you’re still not there yet. That was a motivator to me. I didn’t want to be a guy that has all this potential. I want to be the guy who exceeds my own expectations and exceeds other people’s expectations for me.”

Howard dropped nearly 30 pounds before training camp. He attended conditioning and spin classes with his girlfriend, worked out twice a day, watched his diet and mountain-biked. Now he’s down to 330. At 6-foot-7, he’s still massive (he was a 250-pound basketball player as a freshman at Northern Iowa), but at least he’s in shape.

Needless to say, hard work and overcoming the odds to get an opportunity defined the early parts of Howard’s career. Since ballooning to 360 pounds in the spring of 2012, Howard has worked to become a consistent starter. There is little doubt that he has relevant advice for younger players who come into the locker room.


FAN DISCUSSION SURROUNDING AUSTIN HOWARD

On whether he should be released by the Ravens following the 2017 season:

Is Howard a likely trade target?

I’m a fan of good OL, something Howard has shown himself to be with us. I don’t know if the 3M savings w/2M dead money is worth it. But could we trade him, thus saving all 5M from his contract and getting a late round draft pick?

damn it no

I mean if we get some OL in the draft then maybe but he is a decent tackle that could take over in case of an injury.

I do think Howard’s days are numbered here now that Hurst is signed because of our very very tight cap. (And Jensen is good as gone.) Other teams will know that and some at least will wait for us to cut him. We’ll see what happens.

Discussion surrounding his release from the Raiders prior to the 2017 season:

Much love to Howard and his family

Sucks to see him go, but at the end of the day it is a business. So now it’s on to Newhouse/Alexander/Kirkland to see who locks down the RT spot.

This so sucks

I guess he was just not all that healthy and for his contract if the guy is showing signs that he’s starting to have issues with an injury it’s better to release him.

I maintain my position that it wasn’t at all because of performance, since PFF has ranked him high and the eye test tells us against anyone not named Von Miller or someone of that kind Howard is pretty damn good.

I really hope Newhouse can perform, because if he can’t, our RT spot is NOW actually a big question mark. With Howard we had a stable RT (if he was on the field, again, probably his one big fault), now Newhouse has to perform or it’s gonna have to be one of the young tackles that comes out of nowhere and gets a hold of the position.

Best of luck 77.

He’s a better Tackle than Newhouse....

This has to be about the money and possibly a couple of the developmental younger guys improving… I thought he was worth keeping around despite his high salary…

Sad but this is pure business. Can’t risk another slog of injuries. But for being the “weak link” at RT he was still solid as a rock when healthy

Wishing you he best big guy

Nothing But Respect

Even though he was the weakest link on our OL, he would be one of the best on other teams. He played through injuries, which raised my level of respect for him. He played up to his contract, which is all we could have hoped. Good luck to this warrior, he was a good Raider.


FILM REVIEW - HOW HOWARD IMPACTS THE GAME

The common theme behind criticism for Howard surrounds contract size, health issues, and some concerns that he is a stronger run blocker than a pass blocker. One welcome attribute for Howard is that he used to be a tight end and for such a large man, he is nimble enough to pull and make blocks in space.

Howard also is comfortable working to the second level to seal plays on the inside.

A goal line run that runs right off of Howard’s shoulder while he drives his man to the inside.

Where Howard will struggle most is against speed rushers who do not allow him to lock on.

It is not uncommon for offensive linemen to struggle against talented pass rushers like Kendall Hunter, especially when the play starts with so much space. However, it is worth noting as Colts fans develop their expectations heading into training camp.


No matter where Austin Howard has played, he has been considered a valuable part of the offensive line. He has played at guard and tackle in his career, having success at both positions. The move inside to guard certainly makes some sense given some of his weaknesses on the perimeter against speed rushers and given that he can be an absolute mauler in the running game. Still, he has been widely considered a starting caliber right tackle at each of his stops in the NFL and has been cut more due to salary cap and contract concerns or health issues than his production on the football field.

This leaves Colts fans in a potentially positive position. Unlike the multi-year deals that led to cap related decisions in the past, Chris Ballard gave Howard a one-year deal at a reasonable price. Assuming Howard can stay healthy and has fully recovered from the shoulder issues that plagued him over the last couple of seasons, he could represent the most talent Indianapolis has seen at right tackle in years. Expect that he will have a healthy competition with Denzelle Good throughout the season but, even as depth, he makes the offensive line a more talented group.