Thomas Howard is a Raider!!!

Rupert

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An excellent OLB is now a Raider.
 
Good pick. Raiders are locked onto fixing this defense.

Apparently Art thinks he has the horses for the OL although I'd look for some OL (depth) help in the 3rd round.

So far so good. We're filling needs on the defensive side of the ball and that to me is a good thing.
 
Yeah, I definitely think OG is up for the next round.
 
Thomas Howard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240
40 Speed: 4.45 E
Position: Outside Linebacker
College: Texas-El Paso
Final Grade: G 6.3





SUMMARY

Despite being an elite athlete, Howard was not the dominant player he flashed the ability to be. He has the rare athleticism to make plays all over the field vs. every type of play. Because of his natural flexibility, explosiveness and use of hands he can play stronger at the point of attack than you expect and can knock lead blockers backwards in the hole to disrupt runs in the backfield before they get started. He has the playing speed to consistently chase down plays in backside pursuit, can cover receivers (tight ends and running backs) all over the field in tight man-to-man coverage and can get deep down the seam to handle middle coverage in the "Tampa 2" defensive coverage. The biggest concern is that Howard does not consistently sniff out the play fast and is often a beat late breaking in the direction of the play and in college, his play speed allowed him to make up for it, but in the NFL he will not be able to. Overall, he is going to be a very dangerous starting linebacker in the NFL because of his ability to make big plays vs. the run and in coverage, but he will always frustrate his coaches by not being as consistently productive as he is physically capable of.

CRITICAL FACTORS

Athletic Ability Initial Quickness Play Strength Competes Play Speed Instincts

7.0 5.0 6.0 6.0 8.0 5.5



STRONG POINTS

Howard is an excellent natural athlete with playing speed and explosiveness that is hard to find. He consistently fills fast and takes on the lead blocker strong and aggressively in the hole -- has shown the ability to stack the point of attack, shed quickly and make tackles. His playing speed allows him to consistently chase down ball carriers in backside pursuit -- he has an explosive closing burst to finish plays. He drops off the ball very quickly and smoothly into his zone area, reads the quarterback/pass well, breaks and closes on receivers fast and can break up the pass or make the interception. He can cover tight ends/running backs anywhere in tight man-to-man and has shown the ability to cover receivers on short routes. He reads the wide receiver screen very fast, avoids blockers well and makes hard hits/tackles behind the line of scrimmage right after the catch.



WEAKNESSES

Howard is not a naturally instinctive player and it causes him to often be a beat late moving at the snap, and in the NFL. he will have trouble making up for that to catch players in pursuit. He does not use his hands well to protect his legs from low/cut blocks/traffic which hinders his ability to move through traffic consistently fast. He has a bad habit of getting upright when he chases after the ball in pursuit and it leads to him over-running and missing some tackles. He is a little short and under-sized, and will struggle to hold ground or get free from offensive linemen's blocks consistently.



POSITIONAL FACTORS

Grade Category Comments/Description

5.5 Read & React Once the plays starts, he reads and reacts fast, but at the snap of the ball he is usually a beat late reacting.

5.0 Initial Quickness He is almost always the last of the linebackers to get moving at the snap.

6.0 Play Strength His ability to bend his knees, play low and take on blocks aggressively gives him good playing strength.

6.0 Tackling When he bends his knees and stays over feet, he is a very good tackler, but will over-run some tackles when he stays upright.

6.0 Shed Blocker He does a surprisinly good job of using his hands to take on and shed blocks quickly at the point of attack.

6.0 Run at Him He can fill aggressively to blow up plays in the hole and has the strength to hold ground vs. offensive linemen's run blocks.

6.5 Pursuit/Range His excellent playing speed and explosive closing burst help him make plays in pursuit when he chases hard.

6.5 Closing Burst He has an explosive closing burst to the ball carrier when he gets close to finish plays.

6.0 Zone Coverage He drops very smoothly into zone drops, reads quarterbacks/passes well, and can break and close very fast.

7.0 M/M Coverage He can cover tight ends/running backs all over the field in tight man-to-man without allowing any separation.

6.0 Pass Rush Ability He is not an explosive edge rusher, but he does blitz effectively and closes explosively on the quarterback.

6.0 Errors Usually does not make many errors, but occasionally over-runs and misses some tackles in pursuit.



ATHLETIC ABILITY Section Grade: 7.0

Howard is an excellent athlete with the versatility to be productive in all aspects of linebacker play. He has tremendously quick feet that allow him to accelerate to full speed in a flash, and once he gets to full speed, he has the playing speed to chase down plays from sideline to sideline. His agility and balance combine with his foot quickness to allow him to change directions in a flash and burst explosively in the other direction. He has the natural flexibility to bend his knees and play with good leverage and base which helps him to consistently adjust and tackle well out in space. He has the hip flexibility to flip his hips and turn and run with tight ends/running backs without losing a step and can stay on their hip all the way down the field. He is vert coordinated which helps him to adjust and make tough interceptions in pass coverage.

Q.A.B. Quick Feet C.O.D. Flexibility Coordination
7.0 8.0 7.0 6.5 7.0



COMPETITIVENESS Section Grade: 6.0


Howard has shown toughness taking on blockers at the point of attack and playing through dings to stay in the lineup. On the most important snaps, he has consistently shown a knack for stepping up and making plays -- he seems to crank up his intensity and aggressiveness, attacks the play and finds a way to make the play when it matters most. His overall production is good, but he was not consistently productive throughout games. The trouble with his production is that he does not consistently make plays when he has to deal with blockers -- he is often late shedding upright blocks in time to make plays and does not use his hands to protect his legs from low/cut blocks and gets chopped to the ground too often when he is moving through traffic. He is generally a competitive player who will step up and play aggressively vs. blockers, but on plays away, if he does not think he can make the play, he does not chase hard after the ball.

Toughness Clutch Play Production Consistency Team Player Pride/Quit
6.0 6.5 6.0 5.5 5.5 5.5



MENTAL ALERTNESS Section Grade: 5.5

Howard is a smart young man and it shows in his good tackling technique out in space, good technique taking on lead blocks at the point of attack and sharp pass drops into zone coverage. He consistently reads and reacts to the play quickly once the play starts and he can read the play, but he is usually the last linebacker moving which makes you wonder about his natural instincts -- fortunately for him, with his rare playing speed, he can make up for being a beat late moving at the snap. He does not consistently maintain his concentration when he chases after plays in pursuit and it causes him to over-run and miss some tackles that he has the talent to make.

Learn/Retain Instincts/Reactions Concentration
6.0 5.5 5.5



STRENGTH/EXPLOSION Section Grade: 6.0

Howard is a little shorter than ideal at 6-3 and barely over 230 pounds, and looks especially thin below the waist. While he has pretty much been a durable player in college, it's a concern that he is so thin below the waist and does not protect his legs from low/cut blocks that he will suffer some leg injuries until he learns to use his hands better to protect his legs. He has rare natural explosiveness which helps him to close quickly on ball carriers to finish plays and he can explode up into the ball carrier to make violent hits/tackles. He has good playing strength despite being undersized -- he can consistently stack the point of attack vs. offensive linemen's run blocks, can stand lead blockers up in the hole to clog up inside runs and can tackle big ball carriers without giving any ground.

Body Type Durability Explosion Play Strength
5.0 5.0 7.0 6.0
 
Not a big fan of this pick. Maximum athleticism, minimum instincts. Typical Al Davis.
 
Thomas Howard

Outside Linebacker - Ranked #6

UTEP



Height: 6-3 1/4
Weight: 239 lbs.
Forty Time: 4.42 - Combine
Stats:
2002: 31 TK 0 SK 0 INT 0 FF
2003: 118 TK 2 SK 1 INT 0 FF
2004: 62 TK 8 SK 2 INT 2 FF
2005: 73 TK 3 SK 1 INT 0 FF



Background

Thomas Howard was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. He is the son of Thomas, Sr. and Percilla Howard. His father was a first team All-American linebacker at Texas Tech in 1976 and played 9 years in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Cardinals. Thomas has three brothers and his cousin Terry is a member of En Vogue. Thomas played football and ran track at Estacado High School in Lubbock. He was an all-city and all-district defensive back who racked up 100 tackles and 2 interceptions as a senior. Upon graduation Thomas wasn’t a highly recruited player. His father wanted him to stay home and go to a local college without even pursing football. Against his father’s wishes Thomas attended the University of Texas-El Paso where he walked-on as a 200 pound defensive back and redshirted in 2001. By his redshirt freshman season, Howard had put on 15-20 pounds of bulk. He recorded 31 tackles, a pass breakup and returned a fumble 54 yards for a touchdown in just four starts on the year. By his sophomore season, Thomas was a fulltime starter at weakside linebacker. He finished second on the team in tackles with 118 stops on the year, had 2 sacks and returned an interception 56 yards against Sam Houston. The following year Howard moved to strong side linebacker where over the course of his final two seasons he recorded 135 tackles, 11 sacks, 3 interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. He finished his career as one of the most athletic linebackers in the country and one of the top outside linebacker prospects available in the 2006 NFL draft.

Analysis

Thomas Howard combines the size and strength of a prototypical linebacker with the speed of a defensive back. He is a versatile player who has started at both weak and strong side linebacker, playing both positions at a high level. He has been a very durable player without a single injury during his time at UTEP. He is an extremely hard hitter and a fundamentally sound tackler. Howard is arguably the fastest linebacker in the nation with speed that allows him to make plays sideline to sideline as well as put pressure on the quarterback. He has proven to be an excellent leader both on and off the field. Although he has great speed for a linebacker, his speed can also be a weakness at times—He has a tendency to overrun plays every now and then. He also needs to improve his coverage ability to become a more complete linebacker at the professional level. Thomas Howard has all the tools to become an impact player at the next level. He is a sure first day pick who has a chance to move into the first round of the 2006 NFL draft.
 
More......



Thomas was part of a very solid UTEP linebacking corps last year that included Robert Rodriguez (Tennessee Titans: UDFA) and Godwin Akinduro. This year Howard will takeover the leadership role for a young group of Miner linebackers, and much will be expected from him. He certainly has the prototypical NFL size and good toughness to succeed in that role. He is also one of the fastest linebackers in college football. Thomas has played SAM linebacker in the past, but his skills and solid frame may dictate a move inside either this fall or next. He is not the most fluid of athletes and hasn't yet shown great ability in pass coverage, so the shift to a ILB role might be ideal. There, he can use his size and hard-tackling to even greater advantage. Look for Howard to emerge as one of the best LBs in C-USA this year, and with the increased notoriety and media exposure that will come UTEP's way with the move to a more elite conference, we fully expect Thomas to be on everybody's draft boards come April. It is far too early to predict his 2006 NFL draft status at this time, but you can't teach many of the solid attributes this guy already brings to the table, and if he puts up the great numbers expected and then tests like he should at the combine the sky is the limit for this rugged Miner.
 
Howard has plenty of upside.

Yeah, it's a typical Al Davis pick, but so was Huff.

Howard has the measureables. And Al Davis looks to those above almost everything else. When the player demonstrates the ability to play the game then it's a natural selection.

Howard can play the game. The question is how well. Al Davis thinks you can teach what a guy needs at the NFL level. We'll see how well Howard adapts. No-one thought much of Morrison and look how he worked out.
 
What Al Davis thinks has kept us near the bottom of the barrell for the better part of 20+ years. Not a great guy to hang your hat on, man.
 
I'm inclined to agree with Crow on this one. How many times have we taken the guy with incredible measurables only to find out he can't play? It's like buying a set of new rims when your car doesn't run.

Oh well... at least we appear to addressing need positions.
 
UTEP's Thomas Howard Chosen by Oakland in Second Round of NFL Draft

Release: 04/29/2006



Howard became the first UTEP player to be chosen in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in 33 years.

UTEP linebacker Thomas Howard was picked by Oakland in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft on Saturday in New York.
A Lubbock native, Howard was the sixth selection of the second round, and the 38th overall selection in the draft. He becomes the first Miner player to be chosen in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft since 1973, when quarterback Gary Keithley was the 19th pick of the second round (45th overall pick) by the St. Louis Cardinals.

It also marks the earliest a UTEP player has been taken in the draft since 1969, when defensive back Grady Cavness was the 36th overall selection (10th in the second round) by the Denver Broncos.

The 6-3, 240-pound Howard recorded 296 tackles, 34 tackles for losses (third in school history) and 13 sacks (sixth in school annals) in 48 games for the Miners. He started 39 games at UTEP, earning second team All-Conference honors each of the last two years.

Howard was named UTEP's defensive MVP in 2005 after tallying 85 stops, seven tackles for losses and three sacks. He established personal bests with 118 tackles in 2003, 14 tackles for losses in 2004 and eight sacks in 2004.

He was chosen the preseason defensive player of the year in the state of Texas by Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine entering his senior year -- the first Miner player to receive such an honor on either side of the ball in the 46-year history of the prestigious publication.

A former walk-on defensive back, Howard follows in the footsteps of his father, Thomas Howard Sr., who was tabbed by Kansas City in the 1977 NFL Draft.
 
Well, let's see. Al Davis thought Fabian Washington was a good 1st choice last year. He was right. He thought Stanford Routt was a good selection in the 2nd last year. He's probably right on that one. He thought Andrew Walter was a good selection in the 3rd last year. Most of us think he was right. He thought Kirk Morrison was a good selection in the 3rd last year. He was right.

Al Davis made very good selections last season. I'm inclined to go with his decision here too.
 
Rupert said:
Well, let's see. Al Davis thought Fabian Washington was a good 1st choice last year. He was right. He thought Stanford Routt was a good selection in the 2nd last year. He's probably right on that one. He thought Andrew Walter was a good selection in the 3rd last year. Most of us think he was right. He thought Kirk Morrison was a good selection in the 3rd last year. He was right.

Al Davis made very good selections last season. I'm inclined to go with his decision here too.

He also thought Teyo Johnson and Sam Williams were good choices in the 2nd. How many times has he actually "hit" on these gamble picks? Morrison is actually a great example of what can happen when you draft a player for what he has done with pads on instead of in a track suit.

I don't think that Howard is as bad as some of Al's other stretches but the trend of spending 2nd round picks on athletes intead of football players is troublesome.
 
Let's face it, if you're batting .500 in the draft you're a super star.

Sam Williams? Jury is still out. The guy can flat out play. Whether he will ever stay healthy is still an unknown. Raiders are hedging their bet on Sam I am -- with good reason.
 
I am loving these choices. listen, we all thought or most of us th ought that fabian wasn't gonna turn out to be pretty decent cb for us but look how that turned out.:D
 
Well... if nothing else we'll have kick ass Madden team.
 
Here is an earlier interview with Howard....

Thomas Howard Interview

One thing is certain and that is if you have the talent then NFL scouts will find you. One of the fastest and most athletic players at his position in the country, Thomas Howard may not be well known on the national level right now but that will all change by the time the 2006 NFL Draft rolls around. Thomas was kind enough to check in with Scott Wright and answer some questions about his game, the NFL Draft and much more.




Scott Wright: What is your accurate height, weight and forty time?

Thomas Howard: 6'3'' 240 4.38

Scott Wright: You actually walked on at U.T.E.P. and began your career as a defensive back. How did you evolve into a linebacker and how do you feel that experience in the secondary has helped you at your current position?

Thomas Howard:
Yes, I did walk on at UTEP. I thought that I was going to receive a scholarship, but I didn't make the cut so I walked on. My freshmen year, red shirt freshmen year that is, I gained a solid fifteen pounds which took me to about 215 or 220 pounds and I have just put on a few pounds every year after that. Coming from the secondary, I have the speed of a safety or even faster and my ball handling skills are as good as you are going to find.

Scott Wright: You have some entertainment roots in your family with your father having been drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs (1977) and your cousin a member of the musical group En Vogue. Do you feel you're better prepared for the fame that awaits you?

Thomas Howard: Well, I don't really know my cousin from in En Vogue, if she was to walk by me on the street she would not know me from you, so... But the stories and lessons that my father shares with me about his experiences in the league and in college can't do anything but help me. If it is fame that awaits me, then I will takie it in stride, one day at a time and ask God to guide me with my every move.

Scott Wright: Up until last year U.T.E.P. wasn't talked about much by the national media. Do you feel you are still underrated as a player and prospect because you don't play at a "traditional powerhouse" program?

Thomas Howard: Well, there is no doubt about it, that bigger programs get more publicity, then the quote / un-quote mid major schools. But as time goes along, folks are going to find out about you if you're a good player because a good thing can't hide forever. Just like David Carr when he played down at Fresno State, it wasn't that hard for the everyone to finally find out how good he was. But that's just how it is. But I do believe that this year will be good for me now that my name is out there more than it was last year.

Scott Wright: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a football player and what area do you feel you need to improve in?

Thomas Howard: My strongest area is my speed, playing from sideline to sideline, and my ability to rush the passer.

Scott Wright: What NFL linebacker do you most admire and who do you think you compare favorably to?

Thomas Howard:
I admire any NFL player who is taking this opportunity in their lives to give back to the community, take care of their families and is a positive role model to all the kids growing up, watching them and dreaming about one day being in their position. I'm not sure exactly, but people have said that my body style and game reminds them of Keith Bullock of the Tennessee Titians. I have not actually watched his game too close, but I know he is a good one.

Scott Wright:
Who is the best player you have faced during your career?

Thomas Howard: I am not sure, but I know that we play some good backs this year in DonTrell Moore and DeAngelo Williams.

Scott Wright: What is your greatest football moment to date?

Thomas Howard: My first start in college football came as a red shirt freshman, we were playing the Rice Owls at home on homecoming, a game that we won by a field goal. But the game had a lot of lead changes, and in the 4th Quarter I scooped a fumble caused by Kamal High, our starting DE at the time, and ran 54 yards for a TD.

Scott Wright: Who was your favorite college and pro team growing up? Did you have a favorite player?

Thomas Howard: My favorite professional team growing up was the Green Bay Packers. Just like the rest of the country I enjoyed watching Deion Sanders play and seeing whether or not he would run a punt return back for a TD.

Scott Wright: At what point did you realize that you might have a future in football beyond college?

Thomas Howard: That has been by dream since I was a kid, so I never thought that I didn't have a chance to play in the NFL. I knew that it would take hard work.

Scott Wright: What do you plan to do once your playing career is over?

Thomas Howard: Make sure that I manage my money right. There are too many former players in the NFL who are broke now, so I would do my damndest to make sure that I take care of my money and keep a thousand eyes on those who are suppose to be helping me to manage my money. That way at the end of my career I'll be able to take the money that I made playing and flip it over and over again, in whatever career I decide to make my main focus.

Scott Wright: Is there one player on the team that you see developing into a star, either at the college or pro level?

Thomas Howard: Quinton Demps, he already has that big play mentality, and he is a Big Time player that is an explosive impact player on our team. If and when he intercepts the ball look out because he is heading for the crib (to the house). He reminds me a lot of Ed Reed becuase he is always around the ball when it is in the air. Look for him to have a big year and to be asking him these same questions a few years from now because he is only a sophmore.

Scott Wright: When you get your first professional paycheck what is the first thing you will buy?

Thomas Howard: I'll probably get my mom a house or something like that. That will probably be my first big purchase. And then take my daughter and my nieces and newphews shopping.


Scott Wright: Obviously it is still very early, but do you have any goals in mind when it comes to the NFL Draft (Round One, Top Three Rounds, etc.)?

Thomas Howard: Of course I do, but I'll keep that to myself. But I would be lying if I told you I did not want to go in the 1st round. But only time wilI time.


Scott Wright: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and good luck!

Thomas Howard: God Bless.
 
Thomas Howard scored a 27 on his Wonderlic Test and Huff scored a 16.
 
Angry Pope said:
Thomas Howard scored a 27 on his Wonderlic Test and Huff scored a 16.

That's pretty good for a dumb athlete.

Maybe there is hope yet.
 
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