Three years ago, Tytus Howard was watching the NFL Draft at home with about 25 or so family members. The Alabama State offensive lineman was a three-year starter and a three-year captain after beginning his college career as a walk-on tight end. On the first night, Howard would get a call from the Houston Texans at No. 23, making him the highest-drafted player in school history.
"I'm just sitting out with family, having a good time, and I just got the phone call, 'Hey, Tytus, we're going to take you with the 23rd pick,' and I went down to tears because it's one of the most memorable, exciting times of my life," Howard said. "I'm completely grateful for the Texans giving me a chance to come here and play professional football, because you're getting paid to play a game that honestly I would play for free."
Howard clarifies he wouldn't actually play for free, but that he plays for the love of the game and not for just money. After his rookie campaign, Howard's love for the game and play on the field earned him a spot on the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team. Howard has been a key cog on the Texans offensive line, making starts at right tackle, left guard and even left tackle last season.
"Tytus Howard, he can play tackle, he can play guard," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "The more things you can do, absolutely, the more valuable you are to us and for your stock in general. I think if you have your profile right and you are picking big athletes, small athletes, guys that with a certain skillset, they can do more than one thing. So, that's definitely the case."
With 37 starts in all 37 appearances in games, Howard says his advice to rookies is come in and learn as much as possible from vets like himself. The fourth-year offensive lineman is coming off a career high 15 starts in 2021, 11 at left guard and four at left tackle. Where he plays in 2022 still remains to be seen, according to Smith.
"I prided (myself) on being myself and just learning from the older guys and trying to find a way to learn from them, but kind of create my own style of how I want to be, what type of player I wanted to be and the type of things I wanted to go about," Howard said. "Like I said, it's a high expectation. When you come in here, you've got to perform, especially as a first round pick. I would just tell those guys just come in, be themselves, stay focused. It's going to be a grind, but they're going to be okay."
The Texans have not had a first-round draft pick since selecting Howard. This year, Houston will select twice in the first round, at No. 3 and No. 13. Howard says he plans to watch the 2022 NFL Draft.
"I always like to watch it because I like to see the reactions of the guys, see their families, their moms, the dad who spent all that time raising them the right way to see their kids take a step forward to get money and stuff that changes the whole generation," Howard said. "It's always a blessing for that to happen, so I like watching the draft."
The 2022 NFL Draft takes place Thursday, April 28 through Saturday, April 30 from Las Vegas, Nevada.
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