6’4" 280 lbs
Strengths: Athletic, run stopping, quickness, power
Weaknesses: Consistency, injury history, intensity
There may be many people that feel that players make a mistake when they leave school early to go into the NFL. Bowers shouldn’t fall into that category however because he promises to be one of the most sought after defensive ends in the 2011 NFL Draft.
What is it about Bowers that appeals to NFL scouts? What does he do well? What doesn’t he do well? How can he contribute in the NFL? Where will he go in the 2011 NFL Draft? Let’s find out as we scout Bowers and learn more about him.
If you have had a chance to watch Bowers play, the first thing that you will notice about him is that he’s got very good size for the defensive position. His size does dictate that he would succeed more in a 4-3 as a true defensive end or perhaps in a 3-4 as a defensive end there but he’s got the size to make a difference on the defensive line.
To go along with that size, Bowers is capable of bull rushing and getting up the field, through offensive linemen in order to get to the quarterback or get to the running back in the backfield.
His technique in stopping the run is solid as he gets his body low enough when encountering the running back and makes the tackle easily. When the opponent runs the ball Bowers doesn’t give up ground easily and will stay in his spot to make the play. He can also shed run blockers well and slips off easily to stop the play. When it comes to tackling (against the run) Bowers is a sure tackler and seldom misses a tackle in the running game.
Bowers can read and react to run plays quickly and doesn’t get sucked into misdirection plays. He is aggressive when making the tackle on the ball carrier and can cover both inside and outside runs.
There are some negative aspects to his ability to defend against the run. While he can cover runs to the outside there are times where he gets “lost in the trash” and is taken out of the play. There are also times when he comes up to high and can get pushed out of his stance.
Bowers is one of the best pass rushers in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is able to use his speed and burst to get up the field in a hurry, either work through or around the block and get to the quarterback. He can anticipate the snap count well and gets up out of his stance in a hurry. Bowers possesses the power to force linemen to go backwards and also has some moves that allow him to get past bigger blockers.
Mechanics are something that Bowers seems to do well at. He has good hand use when engaging blockers and possesses a strong swim and rip moves (with the long arms to help) to get past offensive linemen and get to the quarterback. He can also disengage from blockers well and has a strong punch at the outset to knock back blockers.
Bowers has the power to move he pocket and has good leverage. He can get good penetration, works well through double teams and do some damage in the backfield. When Bowers gets into the backfield, he is very disruptive and makes a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage. When he gets in the backfield or approaches the ball carrier, he has great closing speed and the ability to catch up from behind and make the play.
Bowers can also move well up and down the line laterally and gets down the line well in order to make plays (anywhere) on the line. He also has a good change of direction. He has the ability to play on the left or the right side and can play in the three technique as well.
When it comes to hitting the ball carrier, Bowers is a big time hitter that can lay the wood on the ball carrier. With that, he has the ability to knock the ball out of the ball carriers hands and force a fumble.
Some of the negative aspects of Bowers game include the fact that his start in college was not a strong one. He struggled when he first came to Clemson but has done and learned a lot in the time that he’s been there and is much better as a result.
Bowers is going to excel in a 4-3 defense. He has the tools needed to play in such a defense and would fit much better there than in a 3-4 style. If he is drafted by a team that plays a 3-4 defense, he could find a home at outside linebacker but he doesn’t have a lot of experience in coverage so that would be a problem.
Like every other player coming in the 2011 NFL Draft, Bowers has his flaws. While the moves that he uses are good he needs to develop additional moves because once an NFL offensive lineman learns his moves they will be able to shut him down.
Bowers career at Clemson started off a little bit rough because he failed to live up to his lofty expectations at first. He didn’t start playing his “strongest” until this past season and when he did, he blew his coaches and NFL scouts away with his play.
Bowers does have a bit of an injury history that might put some concern in the minds of NFL Scouts. He was out for three games in 2009 thanks to a knee injury but is fully recovered and ready to go for the draft. His injury history may put a little bit of a black mark on him (in regards to what scouts think) but if he can prove he’s fully healthy then he should be just fine.
There are some close to Bowers that feel that the defensive end didn’t play to his fullest in 2009 partially because of the injury that he suffered and partially because he didn’t do enough (in regards to preparation) that year. He has dedicated himself fully this season and it has really shown in his play and ability to get to the quarterback.
While he has good speed he can get stuck trying to get outside of offensive linemen and may struggle to get away from them at times. There are also times where Bowers will get thrown to the ground by offensive linemen and this will have to change in the pros.
Like other defensive ends, Bowers will tend to struggle against double teams and needs to anchor himself lower and gain leverage in order to get through those double teams. There are also times when he seems to stop before the play is over questioning his ability to play to the whistle. He won’t last long in the NFL if he doesn’t do that.
Some may think that Bowers hasn’t proven enough yet (to warrant his high standing coming into this year’s draft) and feel that he hasn’t been that productive. It’s true that his production wasn’t nearly as good prior to the 2010 season but he was dealing with an injury and some performance issues then.
A few other mechanical issues that Bowers seems to possess include sitting too high in his stance at times and not getting below the opposing linemen. He also has some trouble changing direction as well and needs to try to avoid getting held up at the line of scrimmage.
Finally, there are a couple of other small things that people say that Bowers struggles with. One is his instincts and ability to read plays. While that has gotten a lot better he still has trouble at times (reading plays) and having better instincts.
Awards and Honors
The following are some of the awards and honors that Bowers has acquired during his time and Clemson:
2010: Named National Defensive Player of the Week for his game against Maryland, Lombardi Award finalist, Nagurski Award finalist and a Bednarik Award. Listed as one of 15 players to watch by the Walter Camp National Player of the Year award members.
2009: Named Clemson’s defensive player of the Game against Maryland
2008: Phil Steele Third Team Freshman and CollegeFootballNews.com Honorable Mention Freshman All-American.
High School: Named the number one prospect in the country by ESPN, rated number two in the nation by Rivals.com and Scout.com, eighth in the nation by SuperPrep, 14th in the nation by Tom Lemming, first team All-American by Scout.com, participated in the ESPN/Under Armour All-American game and was named the game’s defensive MVP. Named number one defensive end in the nation by Scout.com, named the number two prospect in South Carolina, rated the number one defensive tackle in the nation by ESPN.com, first team All-American by EA Sports, South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year (senior season), and AP All-State selection two times.
The following are the statistics that Bowers achieved during his time at Clemson:
2010: Totaled 66 tackles with 41 solo and 25 assisted. He had 25 tackles for a loss, 15 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.
2009: 46 total tackles with 27 solo and 19 assisted. He had 10.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one blocked kick.
2008: 37 total tackles with 21 solo tackles and 16 assisted. He had eight tackles for a loss and one sack.
Conclusion: Right now, Bowers is the best pure pass rusher in the 2011 NFL Draft and there is no reason to think that he won’t be a top five pick in this year’s draft. He has the skill and ability to step in and not only start right away but also contribute at a high level right out of the gate for the team that is lucky enough to get him.
As long as he can prove that he will play each play 100% and can learn an NFL playbook quickly, Bowers should easily be a top five pick in the draft.
Prediction: Top 5