Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson Tigers
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
After watching film on Bowers, I was blown away with all of his abilities and how far ahead he is of the other prospects. He has the elite speed to blaze by offensive tackles, but does not rely solely on speed to reach the backfield unlike many other pass rushers who possess great speed.
Bowers can be seen on tape using that ability to get around the edge on occasion. At other times he'll hold up the offensive lineman with his long arms and use his positioning to read the play. This type of patience allows him to seal the edge and shut down reverses, play actions, and most change of directions plays. It's rare for a talented player with this natural ability to have the self control to stay dedicated to his lane assignment.
Bowers hardly ever over pursues on plays. This allows his teammates the confidence to do their job, knowing that he'll be where he's suppose to be on every play. When the play develops, Da'Quan never quits on it. He chases the ball carrier from one side of the field to the other. He can be seen on tape making tackles 20+ yards down field. His awareness of the play around him is insane. If a ball is tipped, chances are that he'll be making an attempt on the interception.
The last defensive end taken with the first overall pick was Mario Williams. Bowers is a few years ahead of where Mario was coming out of NC State. Da'Quan is already stout against the run as well as an excellent pass rusher. It took Mario a few years in the league to develop his game to entail this. Bowers also includes the bull rush, spin move, and well placed arm movements to get to the ball carrier, along with his speed. It took Mario several years to be anything more than a speed around the corner type of pass rusher. Williams has included the bull rush in his repertoire but still lacks the spin move that Bowers possesses.
Occasionally, when Bowers is attempting to hold up the offensive lineman to access the play, he gives up leverage and gets too high. This allows the blocker to take Da'Quan out of the play. If this is being exploited in college, then it could become extremely costly at the next level, where all of the players are bigger, stronger and faster.
Even though every year Bowers has added another dimension to his maneuvers, his spin move needs to tighten up. A lot of the times he comes out of the turn and is completely off balance. He'll need to strengthen all of his attacks or it could become costly in the pro game.
During certain games he doesn't play with the same intensity. He has to become self motivated and always find that drive to perform at his best. If he becomes complacent, then he'll never be able to achieve anything close to the level of success he had in college at the next level.
Da'Quan was always considered elite. Coming out of college, he was ranked as the #1 player in the country in the ESPN top 150 high school prospects. He's an athletic freak. He played on the offense and defense in high school and accumulated some amazing stats his senior year. He recorded 14 sacks, 19 touchdowns, and averaged over 40 yards on kickoff returns.
Everyone questions his "1 year wonder" status but fail to realize he was injured and missed several games as a sophomore and played behind some older, talented players as a freshman including two NFL players; one of those players was former high school teammate Ricky Sapp, who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles.
For the scouts wondering how he'll handle adversity, they need not look any further than this year. Bowers lost three people who were extremely close to him and dedicated his season to them. He lost Gaines Adams who played at Clemson and was a top NFL draft pick by the Tampa Bay Bucs, his father Dennis with whom he was extremely close, and his mentor Eric Bamberg. He still managed to go out and perform each and every week at a higher level than anyone else in the game.
Potential NFL Team, Round
Da'Quan Bowers is the most pro-ready, talented prospect in this draft. A lot of NFL teams have yet to learn to draft the best player available. Instead they usually draft a mix of talent plus need. Bowers should be the #1 pick in the draft. The Carolina Panthers could use him and are familiar with him, seeing how Clemson, SC is right down the road from Charlotte, NC. The Panthers have some talented, young defensive ends that they could see as the future of the franchise. Granted none of them are Bowers or the replacement for Julius Peppers.
But they could decide to fill the hole at defensive tackle with the very talented Nick Fairley. There's not much at the defensive tackle position in Carolina and new coach Ron Rivera might want to plug that gaping hole before improving a semi talented defensive end position. Also, Rivera has run the 4-3 and the 3-4 defense. It's been said that he'll run a 4-3 base with a 3-4 hybrid mixed in. Fairley can fit into both systems with ease. Bowers is athletic enough to play the 3-4 outside linebacker but is more suited for the traditional 4-3 DE. Rivera could look at this as getting less value.
The Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills could both provide a home for him at outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme, but both have dire needs at other positions and could view him as not being the best fit at outside linebacker. If he falls to the 4th pick, the Cincinnati Bengals will be tripping over its feet to turn in the card. There is no way that Bowers makes it pass the 4th pick in the draft. If he does slide down this far, Cincinnati can also expect a lot of phone calls from potential trade partners.
Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock
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