Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is off to a fine start to his 2015 season. He's leading the Crimson Tide in receiving yards, with 183, and is averaging more yards per catch than any Alabama wide receiver. He hasn't found the end zone yet, but he had back-to-back four-catch games against Middle Tennessee State and Ole Miss, the first and second games of more than three catches in his career.
But would you believe he's the best tight end in America?
That's the conclusion reached by the play-graders over at Pro Football Focus, who have crunched the numbers and found that Howard is the best-graded tight end in their sample.
The best dual-threat tight end in the nation early in 2015, Howard has a +9.1 run block grade to go with his 13 catches for 183 yards that include 101 yards after the catch (7.8 YAC/reception).
It's hard for casual fans to assess a tight end's run blocking on a granular level, but we can obviously appreciate Howard having been good at it this year. It's the running after the catch that's a bit surprising — we know the big man can move, but moving this well and getting his yards on his own shows he might deserve even more targets.
Of course, given the dearth of production from Alabama's wide receivers, Lane Kiffin might not have too many choices before too long.