Sunday, January 16, 2011

NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Da'Quan Bowers

Da’Quan Bowers

Position: Defensive End

School: Clemson

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 280lbs

Bowers sits atop many an “expert” draft board. He has the prototypical size, speed and athletic ability you look for in a dominant pass rusher. I don’t have to tell you how important it is to put pressure on the QB in today’s NFL. You know stud D-ends come at a premium, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Bowers came off the board in the top 5. In fact, he may go #1. Last time the Carolina Panthers were this bad, they began their rebuilding process by selecting a defensive end with similar physical characteristics from a local school (Julius Peppers), and two years later they were in the Super Bowl. Caveat emptor, Carolina.

Pass Rushing Ability: Bowers has great straight line speed, especially for a 280lb guy, but he has no moves. One can watch the entire video below and he does nothing more than bull rush the opposing blockers to no avail. If he’s not strong enough to run through Olinemen in college, he won’t do it in the NFL. He doesn’t even try to blow by anyone up field. Florida State felt comfortable blocking him 1 on 1 with a Tight End several times and he never got off the block. His sack in this game came on an O-line miscommunication when Clemson showed a rare 3 down lineman look and brought a strong side overload blitz. As far as being a 1 on 1 pass rushing 4-3 end, I don’t think Bowers can do it at the next level unless he receives some serious coaching. I’ll get into what I think he can succeed at later.

Against the Run: Bowers is strong enough that lineman don’t blow him off the line but he’s not strong enough to shed blocks by throwing blockers to the side. On toss sweeps to his side, Bowers does a good job of moving laterally, forcing the runningback to continue running toward the sideline and preventing him from getting actual yardage while other defenders swarm to the ball. His speed makes him good in backside pursuit but in order to pursue from the back side Bowers would need to break contain which makes the defense susceptible to end-arounds and bootlegs. I don’t see Bowers as a liability against the run, but I don’t see him as much of an asset, either.

Other: Has missed some time due to injury but none due to off the field stupidity. Clemson used him at both ends of the line and even kicked him inside to defensive tackle in obvious passing situations. I think Bowers could excel in the NFL as a strong side 3-4 outside linebacker. He can use his quick first step and speed to get up-field and force the offensive tackle to follow him there and then use his strength to rip back underneath the now off balance lineman. He’s good enough against the run to hold up there as well. Of course, we’ll have to wait for the combine or pro day to see if Bowers is comfortable in a two point stance and whether or not he can back pedal and cover tight ends. As a Panthers fan, I’d be very upset if they took Bowers #1. I’m not buying it, and while I’m in the minority, I’m comfortable with my assessment.

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