Yardbarker Horiz

2012 NFL Draft Countdown

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Will Top Defensive End Fall To Buccaneers?

What does it feel like to be Da'Quan Bowers these days?  It has to be long, restless days and fitful, sleepless nights.

Bowers (6'3", 280lbs) was the de facto top rated defensive end coming out of his junior year at Clemson University where he recorded 15.5 sacks last season.  He declared early and headed for the 2011 NFL Draft as both the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendrick award winner.

The former ESPN.com #1 rated high school player has strong pedigree, following Ricky Sapp (Philadelphia, 5th round, 2010) and Gaines Adams (Tampa Bay, 1st round, 2007) through Clemson.  Bowers considered Adams a mentor, and has cited losing both Adams and his father (seizure) within 12 months of each other as inspiration for his stand out season last year.

As recently as January, Bowers was considered a potential #1 pick in the upcoming draft.  However, things have not gone smoothly for the underclassman as he has prepared for the NFL.  Shortly after the college football season, Bowers had meniscus (knee) surgury.  He was insufficiently healed by the NFL combine to participate in any running tests (he did participate in strength tests).  At his Pro day (on-campus workout), he still did not appear to be fully recovered from the surgury, recording a 40-yard dash time in the low 4.9s as well as other results not up to his standards.  After all this, he is starting to fall down draft boards.

Can he fall all the way to Tampa Bay?  Rob Rang, who scouts for CBSSports.com currently (4/18/2011) has the Buccaneers selecting Bowers with the #20 pick.  The latest mock draft from WalterFootball.com actually has Bowers falling past the Buccaneers to the New Orleans Saints.  So it is possible that Bowers is in play for Tampa Bay.

Would the Buccaneers take him?  This is where General Manager Mark Dominik shines.  Dominik took Josh Freeman in 2009 and Mike Williams in 2010, both generally considered "risky" picks due to various reasons.  Both picks have paid off handsomely, showing Head Scout Dennis Hickey and his staff dig deep enough to give Dominik the right information on which to make his decisions.

If Bowers is the pick, then the Buccaneers will have to be patient as he recovers -- and they can be after the strong showing by the young squad last season.  If Bowers is there, and the Buccaneers make him their pick, they could be getting a Top 5 talent late in the first round.

Maybe this pick can turn out golden as well.

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